GRAHAM COUNTY — A man wanted for burglary led the Pima Police on two pursuits, driving vehicles stolen in Central and Thatcher, before he was corralled in Solomon.
It started Oct. 1 at the old Pinky’s Bait & Tackle shop in Central, where Pima Police Chief Diane Cauthen made contact with the suspect, Joseph Martinez. Martinez, 41, was wanted for several burglaries in Pima. Based on information that he would be at Pinky’s, Cauthen drove there in her patrol vehicle. Upon her arrival, Martinez fled eastward on foot, leaving his truck behind.
Pursued by Cauthen and another Pima officer, Martinez soon found another truck at a home construction site in Central. He climbed in and started the vehicle (its keys had been left inside), ignoring Cauthen’s command to exit. The chief deployed her taser twice with no effect; Martinez pulled out the leads and threw them back. According to her report, Cauthen was reaching for the truck door when Martinez put the vehicle in drive, forcing her to push away to avoid being hit. He then drove away.
Later that day, he was seen bound for Pima in an ATV reported stolen in Thatcher. As he drove south on Main Street, Cauthen pulled in behind him with lights and siren. Martinez sped up, taking several roads in an effort to shake pursuit; at one point, he was going 55 mph in a 25 mph zone. On dirt roads north of Pima, officers lost sight of him in the dust after he turned off the ATV’s lights.
Law enforcement would catch up to Martinez the next day, however. Receiving word that he was at a Solomon residence, Graham County Sheriff’s deputies and a Pima Police officer met there. Martinez was found inside the residence; this time he went into custody quietly, taser probes from the previous encounter still in his side.
Martinez was taken to Mount Graham Regional Medical Center to have the probes removed, then to the Graham County Sheriff’s Office for questioning. He allegedly claimed another subject was driving the stolen ATV, and that person had run from police because of warrants. Martinez stuck to this story despite Cauthen’s statement that he was the vehicle’s only occupant and the fact that all the ATV’s passenger seats were dusty.
The ATV was recovered in Pima following the pursuit, and the stolen truck was found in the riverbed. Martinez was booked into the Graham County Jail on Oct. 2.