Murder charge urged in Mesa gunbattle death - East Valley Tribune: News

Murder charge urged in Mesa gunbattle death

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Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2008 10:38 pm | Updated: 12:07 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A Sunday crime spree that ended with a gunbattle in a Mesa neighborhood and left a man dead could now result in murder charges.

Neighborhood shaken by weekend drive-by

Carjacking suspect dies in cop shootout

The woman who is suspected of helping the man that police shot and killed Sunday during a violent robbery spree could soon be charged in connection with his death, according to court records.

Police are recommending that the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office charge Sawajee M. Chiquette, 34, with first-degree murder in connection with the police shooting death of 27-year-old Jaime Martinez. In cases where a person dies during the commission of a felony, state law allows the accomplice to be charged with murder.

Chiquette also is facing possible charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault and unlawful flight from law enforcement.

She is being held in a Maricopa County jail.

Police say they believe the crime spree began in Tempe when Martinez and Chiquette stole a car from a man at gunpoint.

“Give me your (expletive) keys, I’m going to shoot you,” Martinez said, according to court records.

Chiquette yelled, “Give him your keys,” the records say.

The pair drove into Mesa and held up two boys, whom they then tried to shoot, but the gun didn’t fire, records show.

Police tried to make a traffic stop on the vehicle, but Chiquette kept driving. Records show Martinez then leaned out the passenger window and fired at officers following them.

Chiquette slowed the vehicle and the pair jumped out of the car, but Martinez opened fire on the officers and he was shot and killed.

The gunbattle sent bullets into nearby homes in the 1500 block of West Seventh Drive and frightened some neighbors.

“My mom was here by herself. She felt scared,” said Juan Bahena, 14, who lives near where the shootout occurred.

“I just ran inside and we all got on the floor,” said Estephanie Ramirez, 15, who lives in another home on the street.

On Tuesday, Mesa police are scheduled to host a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Adams Elementary School, 738 S. Longmore, that will allow residents to ask questions and sign up for free counseling from the city’s victims services department.

“It’s just too violent of an incident not to talk to people,” said Mesa police spokesman Detective Chris Arvayo.

Arvayo said the city has made a commitment that any time a traumatic situation occurs publicly in the community, police will meet with residents.

Adams principal Devon Isherwood said some parents were initially worried after the shootout.

“We had some questions that morning, and once we explained that it had nothing to do with our neighborhood, everyone was OK,” Isherwood said.

She added that the police requested to use Adams for the meeting.

Chito Jimenez, 34, who said he’s Martinez’s cousin, stood in front of a makeshift memorial of candles and flowers Thursday on the corner near where the shooting occurred.

Jimenez said he walked through the neighborhood following the shooting to apologize to

neighbors for the disturbance.

Tribune writer Eddi Trevizo contributed to this report.

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