Originally created 06/12/04

Deputies kill man after he stabs wife



At the moment when an Augusta man stabbed his stricken wife Friday, police used deadly force to stop him.

Those two Richmond County deputies are now on administrative leave while state authorities investigate the incident, officials said.

Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten identified the deceased as Jesus R. Rodriguez-Martinez, 26, of the 300 block of Myrtle Drive.

Mr. Tuten said Mr. Rodriguez-Martinez was shot twice - once by each deputy - in the left arm and in the left side.

Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength identified the deputies as Cory Carlyle, 26, and Michael P. Cullinan, 34, both road patrol deputies of the agency's North precinct.

Sheriff Strength said both have been placed on administrative leave with pay pending findings from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Such action is standard practice during the investigation of incidents where police officers shoot suspects.

Sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry said deputies received a domestic violence call before 8 a.m. at the Fox Den Apartments on Myrtle Drive off Wrightsboro Road.

Maj. Autry said deputies found Mr. Rodriguez-Martinez wielding a large butcher knife, standing over his wife, Flora Martinez-Arrequin, 28, while she held her son, Jesus Christian Martinez, 1, on the ground.

Both apparently had been stabbed, he said, and Mrs. Martinez-Arrequin had suffered severe wounds.

Mr. Rodriguez-Martinez was threatening to stab his wife again, the major said, and deputies ordered him to drop the weapon.

He refused, and deputies fired at the man, the major said. Mr. Tuten pronounced him dead at the scene.

Sheriff Strength said pepper spray used before shooting had no effect on Mr. Rodriguez-Martinez.

Shontover Kirkland, 14, who lives across the street from the couple, said her aunt woke her up and told her about the incident outside.

She said she ran out and saw the gruesome scene.

According to a neighbor who served as a translator for authorities, the suspect understood and spoke at least some English.

The neighbor, who speaks Spanish, spoke to witnesses of the crime and translated for law enforcement officers.

Maj. Autry said that while he was not sure who spoke in Spanish to Mr. Rodriguez-Martinez, deputies and other emergency officials were able to communicate adequately.

He said sheriff's investigators were using interpreters and had several officers who can speak Spanish to assist in interviews.

The neighbor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said shouting woke him at about 7:45 a.m.

He went outside and saw two uniformed police officers and one plain-clothed officer pointing weapons at a Hispanic man who had a 12-inch carving knife in his hand.

At the man's feet, a woman lay face-down and motionless next to a young child.

Pacing up and down the yard, the man made downward slashing motions with the knife and told police he didn't want to go to jail.

The assailant also said the woman had cheated on him and that the child was not his, the neighbor said

The man stopped pacing and knelt next to the woman and the child while police commanded him to drop his knife, the neighbor said.

"It seemed like he was going to slash her throat," the witness said.

But the man stood up again and resumed pacing.

Suddenly, he knelt next to the woman and drove the knife deep into her back, the neighbor said.

"I could only physically see the handle," he said.

In the split second he stabbed the woman, two police officers fired their weapons, hitting him in the area of his right shoulder, the neighbor said.

The assailant fell over onto his back. At that point, police handcuffed the man and administered medical attention to the woman.

The mother and child were taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, Maj. Autry said.

Deborah Humphrey, an MCG spokeswoman, said the hospital would not release information about Mrs. Martinez-Arrequin's or Jesus Christian's conditions.

Sheriff Strength said the woman was in critical condition Friday afternoon. He said Mrs. Martinez-Arrequin had also been attacked with an electric drill obtained from a vacant apartment next door that was being renovated.

"With all appearances, without a doubt, it was a justified shooting," he said.

Maj. Autry said Jesus Christian suffered only superficial wounds. He said the Department of Family and Children Services will determine custody of the child.

Mr. Tuten said an autopsy on Mr. Rodriguez-Martinez would be performed today at the GBI crime lab in Atlanta.

Friday's incident wasn't the first time this year that Richmond County sheriff's deputies have investigated domestic violence between the couple.

According to a police report, Mr. Rodriguez-Martinez called police April 22 and said Mrs. Martinez-Arrequin had slapped his face several times and punched him while he sat on a sofa in their home.

No arrests were made after the incident because of insufficient probable cause, the report states. Deputies reported no visible injuries to Mr. Rodriguez-Martinez during the April incident.

Neither of the deputies in the shooting has been with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office for long, but both have substantial law enforcement experience.

Deputy Cullinan, who has been with Richmond County since late April, has at least eight years of experience in law enforcement and was last with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, said Sgt. Pat Young, of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office Internal Affairs Division.

He said Deputy Cullinan left the Columbia County agency in 2002.

Sgt. Young said Deputy Carlyle, who has been with his agency since late March, has had about five years of experience as a policeman and last served with the Vidalia Police Department.

The sergeant said neither have had disciplinary action taken against them since they started working at the sheriff's office.

Staff Writer Kate Lewis contributed to this report.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com