Police: Man arrested in wrong-way accident knew he was drunk

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- Authorities say a Phoenix man arrested in a wrong-way freeway accident in which a Fire Department dispatcher was fatally injured had a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety also said that 39-year-old Stephen B. Martin said after the Tuesday morning accident that he knew he was drunk and shouldn't be driving but that he had to get his girlfriend because she was being sexually assaulted.

"The alleged rapist was chasing them in a vehicle behind them at the time he ended up entering the freeway the wrong way by accident," attorney Vicki Lopez said to the judge at Martin's initial court appearance.

According to court documents, Martin told an officer at the scene of the crash, "I knew I shouldn't have drove, but I needed to get my girlfriend, she was being raped ... I knew I was too drunk to drive."

According to DPS, a woman in Martin's SUV said they couldn't find a place to turn around on Interstate 17.

DPS said he had a blood-alcohol level of .313. The legal limit is .08.

"Some criminalists might consider that approaching lethal intoxication," said George Kelemen with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. "He was absolutely blotto at the time he was driving on I-17."

Martin remained jailed on suspicion of second-degree murder and other crimes.

A judge set his bond at $700,000.

In doing so, the judge stated, "He does have two misdemeanor convictions including a previous DUI from June of 2006 ... a marijuana violation he spent ten days in jail and one year of probation. He was also driving on a suspended license."

Martin declined a request for an interview. His attorney did not return a phone call from 3TV.

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