Edward Littleton McCauley

Edward Littleton McCauley, 63, of Peoria, was sentenced to death for killing his estranged wife in 2014.

A Peoria man who plotted his wife’s murder for two years before killing her was sentenced to death last week.

A jury gave Edward Littleton McCauley the death sentence Thursday, Jan. 9, for fatally shooting his estranged wife in front of her Glendale home in 2014. 

McCauley, 63, was convicted of first-degree murder Nov. 5.

“This murder was a heinous and callous act,” said Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel. “In the state of Arizona, a sentence of death is reserved for the worst of the worst. The calculated actions taken by this defendant to murder his estranged wife justify this outcome.”

Court records show McCauley’s attorneys unsuccessfully argued first for a mistrial, stating he had a “mental disorder” and did not deserve death.

On the night of Nov. 24, 2014, McCauley waited for hours outside his estranged wife’s home.  She was working the night shift. 

Around midnight, Glendale Police received calls of gunshots at 5726 W. Cortez Street, near Cactus and North 59th avenues, according to a police report.

When officers arrived, they found Dawn McCauley, 45, slumped over in her vehicle in front of her home. She had numerous gunshots to her body and was treated at the scene, then transported to a local trauma center, where she died.

According to the Maricopa County attorney’s office, as the victim walked to her car, McCauley approached her with a handgun and began yelling threats. She jumped into the car, but he managed to get inside and hit her in the head with his weapon. He exited the truck and as he stood outside the passenger side door, he emptied the gun into the victim, firing eight rounds. 

The Maricopa County attorney’s office said, right after the murder, McCauley sent profanity-laced text messages to three of the victim’s family members telling them he killed her. Police were able to recover the phones and save these texts. McCauley later told police he wrote these texts some time prior to the killing and “it was just a matter of pushing send” once the murder occurred.

Police searched McCauley’s residence in Peoria, where he lived for more than a year after separating from his wife. McCauley was not there, but evidence was collected. 

Detectives with the Glendale Police along with the U.S. Marshal Service located McCauley in the parking lot of a Denny’s restaurant near North 67th Avenue and Interstate 10. 

He was taken into custody without incident and detained for questioning. During an interview, McCauley admitted to firing eight rounds into his wife from close range, according to the report by Eric Holmstedt, a Glendale Police detective.

Holmstedt’s report stated family members told him Dawn McCauley was threatened by her estranged husband, but was “too afraid of him” to file a restraining order.

McCauley said he contemplated killing his wife for more than two years. He had a calendar with a handwritten note of “Judgement Day” circled in red.

Journal entries leading up to the date indicated how many days remained until he would kill her.

During the sentencing portion of the trial, the prosecution presented the jury evidence Glendale Police arrested McCauley in 1991, for assaulting his ex-wife.