Boyfriend charged with homicide in single-vehicle crash from 2017 that took young woman’s life

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Jace Austin Saiz, 22, has been charged with reckless manslaughter, negligent homicide, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, and endangerment in the March 2017 death of Isabel M. Aparicio, 20, of Solomon.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Three years ago, Isabel M. Aparicio, 20, of Solomon, lost her life in a single-vehicle rollover in Solomon. Now, her passenger, Jace Austin Saiz, 22, of Avondale, has been charged with contributing to her death. 

Saiz has been charged by the Graham County Attorney’s Office with reckless manslaughter, negligent homicide, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, and endangerment. His case is being tried in the Graham County Superior Court. 

According to the initial report from the Graham County Sheriff’s Office, Aparicio died in the early evening of Friday, March 10, 2017, when her green, 1994 Ford Escort went off the north side of Solomon Road onto the dirt shoulder and into a concrete ditch just east of the San Simon Bridge. The vehicle dragged in the cement canal until it flipped and came to rest on its top north of the canal. 

Aparicio suffered severe head trauma with injuries to her face and back of her head, which possibly struck the concrete ditch. Officers began cardiopulmonary resuscitation and a helicopter was put on standby, but Aparicio was pronounced deceased at the scene by a doctor from Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center (MGRMC) at 6:05 p.m.

Isabel Aparicio

The report stated there were no signs of skid marks or any indication that the vehicle had overcorrected and that it just went straight off the road prior to hitting the ditch. There were no signs of impairment from the driver or passenger, and the investigating officer listed speed as a contributing factor to the crash.

At the time, Saiz allegedly told investigators that he was in the front passenger seat looking out the window when Aparicio called out his name and he looked forward and saw the vehicle going off the roadway. Saiz only suffered cuts to his legs and advised that he believed Aparicio was speeding when the crash occurred. 

However, investigators received and discovered subsequent information after the initial report that indicated Saiz was not fully forthcoming in his statements. Some of the new information included a cell phone video of an argument Saiz and Aparicio had while driving just prior to the crash in which Saiz yells at Aparicio, calling her names and advising her that if she didn’t stop the car he would “(expletive deleted) her up.”

Additionally, investigators learned of a conversation between Saiz and a friend of his that Saiz allegedly had over the phone while he was still at the hospital. According to the report, Saiz allegedly admitted to being the driver and wrecking the car on purpose in an effort to kill both Aparicio and himself.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Investigators re-examined Aparicio’s Ford Escort, pictured here after being towed to the Graham County Maintenance Yard, and determined that Jace Saiz couldn’t have been where he said he was located during the crash.

An investigator then examined the wrecked car that was being stored at the Graham County Maintenance Yard and deduced that Saiz couldn’t have been in the front passenger seat as he claimed or he would have suffered severe injuries due to the damage to the car. 

Saiz was then interviewed again and allegedly admitted to having the argument with Aparicio prior to the crash. He then allegedly said that he climbed into the backseat, grabbed Aparicio’s throat and choked her as the car approached the bridge.