Safford Police make five DUI arrests in two days

Contributed Photo/Courtesy SPD

By Jon Johnson

jonjohnsonnews@gmail.com

SAFFORD – Authorities in Safford had a busy couple of days April 5 – 6 taking alleged impaired drivers off the road. 

The arrest spree started at 12: 37 a.m. on Friday, April 5, when an officer responded to a collision between a white, four-door sedan and a pickup truck in the 400 block of 4th Street. 

According to witnesses at the scene, the driver of the sedan, later identified as David Rios, was responsible for the crash. Prior to officers’ arrival, Rios had walked away from the crash scene and entered into the passenger’s side of another vehicle roughly 75 yards away. According to the police report, Rios did not know the owner of the vehicle he entered. 

Rios was found with two shooter bottles of Fireball whiskey in his pocket and showed various signs of alcohol intoxication. 

Rios refused a blood draw and a warrant was obtained to compel him. Still, he remained combative and had to be restrained by medical staff and several officers. 

After retrieving the blood sample, Rios was released to be transported to Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center for treatment of a head wound. Possible charges including DUI and leaving the scene of an accident are pending lab test analysis and review by prosecutors. 

At about 8:37 p.m. the same day, an officer arrested Kenny Villalba for aggravated DUI after pulling him over for driving without any headlights illuminated. 

Villalba was first spotted westbound on U.S. Highway 70 and pulled over on 20th Avenue. 

Villalba had his 18-month-old son in the vehicle with him and allegedly admitted to smoking marijuana that morning. 

After failing field sobriety tests, Villalba was arrested and the child’s grandparent retrieved the youth from the scene. 

Villalba then voluntarily submitted to a blood draw and was released at the police department afterward. A charge of aggravated DUI for allegedly driving impaired with a child in the vehicle is pending lab test analysis and review by prosecutors. 

Police had little time to spare as Brenda Romero was arrested shortly thereafter at about 11:24 p.m. for extreme DUI. 

According to a police report, Romero was pulled over near the intersection of U.S. Highway 191 and Discovery Park Boulevard after an officer noticed she had a broken taillight. 

Upon contact, the officer noted a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage and several other clues to possible impairment. When asked for her driver’s license, Romero instead handed over a government-issued identification card and called it her “passport.” She also allegedly stated that she did not have a driver’s license. 

Romero told the officer that she was on her way home and denied consuming any alcohol. However, the officer noted seeing six empty “shooter” bottles of alcohol in the base of the driver’s side door. Further inspection turned up an additional three unopened shooter bottles in Romero’s purse.

During field sobriety tests, Romero allegedly made several “silly faces” at the officer and stuck out her tongue. She did not, however, pass the tests. 

Arrangements were made for a family member to retrieve the vehicle and Romero’s blood was taken for testing purposes. She was then released to her grandmother. 

Possible DUI charges are pending lab test analysis and review by prosecutors. 

While the officer was transporting Romero to the police department to take her blood, he came upon what he believed to be an impaired driver northbound on 8th Avenue. The officer advised that the driver had crossed the center line several times.  

The officer followed the driver and called for a second officer to respond to the Circle K on 1st Avenue after the driver pulled into the store’s parking lot. 

The second officer arrived just as the driver came to a stop in the parking lot. The officer contacted the driver, identified as Christopher Leachet, and noted that Leachet spoke quickly and appeared to have a  rigid muscle posture – which could be signs of methamphetamine use. 

After initially denying using meth recently, Leachet allegedly advised he had used a few days ago, then said it was weeks ago, then remembered that he had taken a few hits the other day.

Leachet was placed under arrest for aggravated DUI at about 12: 15 a.m. on Saturday, due to his driver’s license being suspended and the officer’s belief that he was under the influence of methamphetamine. 

At the police department, Leachet was allowed to consult with his attorney, identified as Sandi Bingham, who he said advised him not to submit to a blood draw. 

A warrant was then processed for his blood and served to Leachet, who then consented to the draw, which was taken at about 1:20 a.m. Afterward, he was released and was picked up at the police department by his daughter. 

Possible DUI charges are pending lab test analysis and review by prosecutors. 

The two-day spree was bookended by another DUI-related collision at about 6 p.m., Saturday. 

An officer responded to the 2500 block of 12th Avenue to a single-vehicle collision and located the driver, identified as Justin Kinnebrew. 

Kinnebrew said he was south on 12th Avenue when the axle on his vehicle broke and forced him off the road. However, the officer could not locate any signs in the road showing the axle broke but did locate “numerous” empty Budweiser beer laying on the ground near the wreckage and a cooler in the vehicle with more beer cans inside. 

Despite the physical evidence and the officer noting Kinnebrew’s breath smelled of alcohol, Kinnebrew denied drinking that day. 

After failing field sobriety tests he was placed under arrest for DUI and had his blood drawn at the police department. Afterward, he was released to his mother. 

Possible DUI charges are pending lab test analysis and review by prosecutors.  

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