Trial opens for man accused in 2 Phoenix murders, burying bodies in backyard

PHOENIX (AP) --  A lawyer for an Arizona man charged with killing two people and burying their bodies in his mother's backyard attacked the credibility of her client's girlfriend because she was given a lenient prison sentence for her role in the deaths.

Attorney Maria Schaffer told jurors Monday that the only evidence linking Alan Mathew Champagne to the two 2011 killings came from his girlfriend, Elise Garcia.

Garcia was sentenced to 16 years in prison last fall after pleading guilty to murder in the death of one of the victims, Brandi Hoffner, and is expected to testify at Champagne's trial.

Authorities say the 46-year-old Champagne killed Hoffner and Philmon Tapaha at his apartment in July 2011, put their bodies in a plywood box and buried it a half-mile away at his mother's home.

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