Allister Adel, the first woman elected to the office of Maricopa County Attorney, died on Saturday at the age of 45. Let’s see how did Allister Adel die.
Who was Allister Adel?
Adel was appointed as acting county attorney by the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in October 2019 to replace Bill Montgomery, who Ducey appointed to a seat on the Arizona Supreme Court.
She was the first woman to hold that position, and she was also the first woman to be elected to the office when she was elected in November 2020.
Adel took office with a reform agenda aimed at overhauling an agency that many saw as overly punitive under Montgomery and his predecessor, Andrew Thomas.
She revamped pretrial diversion programs, established a prosecution integrity unit, altered plea policies, and established community advisory boards.
Nothing symbolized her intended shift in direction more than her decision to fire Juan Martinez, the office’s storied death penalty prosecuting attorney who was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct, in February 2020.
Martinez presided over Jodi Arias’s murder trial, which was broadcast live across the country. He later agreed to be disbarred without admitting guilt.
“Any inappropriate behavior, any harassment — workplace, sexual or otherwise — will not be tolerated,” Adel said at the time to The Arizona Republic. “The women in the office must feel safe in their workplace.” They must understand that we are looking after them, protecting them, and empowering them.”
Allister Adel Cause of death
How did Allister Adel die, She had resigned from her position six weeks prior. Her death was confirmed by her husband and family, who cited “health complications.”
“We’d be celebrating 20 years of marriage this May.” My family and I are devastated by this unimaginable loss. “We are so proud to call Allister our wife and mother,” said her husband, David DeNitto, in a statement.
“I am heartbroken to learn of Allister’s passing,” said Rachel Mitchell, who took over as county attorney in Adel’s absence. Her many years of service to our community have left an impact on crime victims, first responders, and animals, to name a few. My heartfelt condolences go out to her family, friends, and the community she so dearly loved.”
How did Allister Adel die?
She was admitted to the hospital in 2020 following a fall. Adel underwent emergency surgery following her fall to remove a blood clot caused by brain bleeding.
She was in a rehabilitation center last year for alcohol abuse and mental health issues.
According to the family, former Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel has died.
According to a spokesperson, Allister Adel DeNitto died Saturday morning as a result of health complications. But there is no more information about how did Allister Adel die.
Adel’s husband, David DeNitto, and their two young sons are among her survivors.
Funeral arrangements will be announced later, according to the family.
Gov. Doug Ducey responded to the public outpouring of emotion on Twitter, writing, “Arizonans’ hearts and prayers are with Allister’s family, colleagues, and close friends. May her soul rest in peace.”
Adel resigned on March 21 during investigations by the State Bar of Arizona and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors into her sobriety and weeks-long absences from the office.
Participant in the community
Adel was also active in the non-profit and service communities. As a board member of the 100 Club of Arizona, she assisted law enforcement first responders and their families. Adel also served on the Advisory Board of the ASU Public Service Academy.
A difficult tenure as county attorney
Adel took over at a moment when Phoenix police, by far the biggest law enforcement agency disclosing to her sprawling office, were under fire for their use of lethal force. The U.S. Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into the department and the city over their policing practices last year.
It wasn’t long before Adel was called out on her decision to charge 15 Black Lives Matter protesters imprisoned in 2020 as gang members.
Former Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roland Steinle led an investigation that discovered a breakdown in communication between the County Attorney’s Office leadership and the case’s lead prosecutor.
Adel eventually announced that she was dropping the charges against the protesters. Protesters and the lead prosecutor filed legal claims against the county totaling more than $100 million as a result of the harsh charges.
The first female prosecutor has been appointed.
Allister Adel DeNitto was born in November 1976 in Dallas and raised in Texas.
Her father made sacrifices so she could attend the prestigious Hockaday School, she told The Republic in 2020.
“Down to the point where he might only have $20 in his pocket and give it to me,” she explained.
Adel stated that the four pillars of the school were still essential to her as an adult: character, courtesy, scholarship, and athletics.
Adel left Texas to attend the University of Arizona, where she earned a degree in political science with minors in Spanish and criminal justice.
Adel said she knew she wanted to make a difference in the legal field from a young age but didn’t want to be a cop or a public defender.
From 1999 to 2001, she worked in criminal court administration at Maricopa County Superior Court. Adel then decided to attend law school to become a prosecutor. She considered the position to be “the greatest job an attorney can have.”
In 2004, she graduated from Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor Law School and began working for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which she later led.
Adel spent seven years as a deputy county attorney, working in the vehicular crimes, gang, and drug enforcement bureaus. She stated that her experience as a prosecutor made her realize how to assist victims during the court process.
In one of her cases, a drunken driver killed Phoenix police officer Shane Figueroa in 2008. Adel became a lifelong friend to the officer’s parents, according to a letter to the Board of Supervisors.
“We believe Allister Adel was brought into our lives at this time by divine guidance,” E. Cory and Jerilyn Figueroa said.
Adel left the prosecutor’s office to become the Arizona Department of Transportation’s chief administrative law judge.
She later worked as the Arizona Department of Child Safety’s general counsel and the Maricopa County Bar Association’s executive director. Adel also ran a private consulting business.
Resignation and absences
Adel checked into a rehabilitation facility in August 2021, admitting she needed help with anxiety, alcoholism, and an eating disorder.
Concerns about her fitness for office were raised again earlier this year. Five top criminal prosecutors in Adel’s office said they had lost faith in her ability to lead and demanded her resignation in a letter dated February 14.
The Republic reported on March 14 that lawyers in her office failed to file charges in 180 misdemeanor cases, forcing them to be dropped when the statute of limitations expired.
Adel announced her resignation a few days later. She was admitted to the hospital on March 25, her last day on the job.
Tributes paid by public officials
I’m shocked and saddened to learn of Allister Adel’s sudden passing. Our thoughts are with her family during this incredibly difficult time — may she rest in peace.
Saddened to hear the tragic news of Allister Adel‘s passing. Our thoughts and condolences are with her loved ones. @GabbyGiffords and I wish them comfort during this very difficult time.
I’m absolutely heartbroken to hear about the passing of our friend Allister Adel. She was not only a wonderful person but a loving wife and mother. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. May she Rest In Peace.
I’m devastated by the passing of my friend, Allister Adel. I will forever cherish the conversations we shared & hope she was able to find peace in her final days. My thoughts & prayers are with her family & all who loved her.
My heart goes out to Allister Adel’s family and friends during this difficult time. I’ll be keeping them in my thoughts through the coming days and weeks.
I’m shocked and devastated to learn that my friend, Allister Adel, passed away earlier today. My heart is broken for her husband and two young children that she leaves behind. Please join me in praying for the family as they grieve during this difficult time. RIP Allister.
I hope we’ve resolved all the doubts about how did Allister Adel die!
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