Woman who hit DPS soldier with SUV in 2021 sentenced to 12 years
A woman accused of hitting a DPS soldier with his vehicle last year and helping a fleeing suspect escape was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a Class 2 felony.
Arizona Department of Public Safety Sgt. Christopher Rios chased a man driving a silver Nissan Altima who speeded past him, driving north on Interstate 17 around 2:45 a.m. on March 6, 2021.
The Altima exited onto Cactus Road but the driver lost control of the car, spun and crashed into the center median. Court documents say Rios pursued the suspect on foot when Salina Avila, who was 18 at the time, rammed Rios from behind in a stolen white Chevrolet Tahoe before pulling over to the suspect and saying, ” Come in, come up!”
Fire crews from a nearby truck “watched Rios disappear under the Tahoe,” according to documents.
Rios saw the man enter the Tahoe and fired nine shots at the vehicle as it accelerated east on Cactus Road before calling the dispatcher and driving to the hospital for treatment , according to documents.
Phoenix police were already investigating reports that a white Chevrolet Tahoe was stolen shortly before the incident and eventually found it near 21st and Larkspur drives.
Phoenix police pulled over the Tahoe and Avila got out of the car and collapsed with multiple gunshot wounds before being taken to a hospital, court documents show. The man Avila picked up was not with her when officers arrived at the scene. It is not known if the police ever found the man.
Investigators extracted fingerprints from the Altima and the Tahoe and found they belonged to a 25-year-old man.
They then reviewed surveillance footage from the Glendale home where the Tahoe was stolen near 43rd Avenue and Cactus Road, which showed the Altima driving past the home several times before a man got out and walked away. breaks into a Jeep Wrangler parked in the driveway and robs a garage. door remote control.
The man and the Altima left for a short time, then returned and opened the garage door shortly before the Tahoe was seen backing up rapidly with both vehicles fleeing the residence, documents show.
Avila was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and robbery involving a conveyance, although the other charges were dropped due to her guilty plea.
Avila was also sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree burglary in a separate court case where she faced charges alongside a man named Roger Duarte for crimes that allegedly occurred on February 3, 2021.
It was not immediately clear whether Duarte, who still faces charges of second-degree burglary and misconduct involving weapons, was or had any connection to the man Avila picked up on March 6.
Court documents say Avila will serve the one-year sentence alongside the 12-year sentence, for which she has 488 days credit for time served.
Support local journalism. Subscribe to azcentral.com today.