Date of Birth: June 10, 1966
On May 19, 1989, the police stopped Christopher John
Spreitz after observing that his car was smoking and leaking oil. The
officer had observed the same car earlier that night also smoking and
The officer noticed Spreitz had blood and fecal
matter on his hands, arms, and on the front of his clothing. Spreitz
said he had been in a fight. Police checked the location of the alleged
fight, and found no indication any fight had taken place. They
photographed Spreitz and his car, gave him a traffic citation, and then
Three days later, a passing horseback rider
discovered the body of Ruby Reid in the desert. The body and surrounding
area were covered in blood and fecal material.
Recalling the condition of Spreitz's clothing and
person when they stopped him, the police again questioned him about the
purported fight, Spreitz admitted picking up the victim at a convenience
store, but claimed the victim went with him voluntarily to the desert.
Spreitz said they struggled in the desert, and
admitted striking her several times before raping her. He admitted
crushing her skull with a rock because she would not stop screaming, but
said he was not sure if she was dead when he left her.
The victim's wounds included a broken jaw, five
broken ribs, numerous bruises on her arms, legs, and trunk. The fatal
wound was a skull fracture, consistent with being struck with a V-shaped
Spreitz was convicted of first-degree murder (both
premeditation and felony-murder), sexual assault, and kidnapping.
Presiding Judge: William Sherrill
Prosecutor: Kathleen Mayer
Start of Trial: August 9, 1994
Verdict: August 18, 1994
Sentencing: December 21, 1994
Insufficient to outweigh aggravating circumstances or to call for
State v. Spreitz, 190 Ariz. 129, 945 P.2d 1260 (1997).
State v. Spreitz, 202 Ariz. 1, 39 P.3d 525 (2002).
On May 18, 1989, Ruby Reid spent the evening at
the Red Dog Saloon in Tucson. She had been a regular patron for a number
of years. On the night in question, a bartender friend saw Ms. Reid
leave the bar at approximately 11:30 p.m. Because she did not own a car
and the bar was near her home, she was on foot as usual.
Meanwhile, defendant spent several hours drinking
with his roommate at another bar in the vicinity. At about midnight,
defendant and his roommate returned home. The roommate's girlfriend
testified that shortly after they arrived, defendant remarked that he
was going out to see if he could "pick up a date."
Between 12:35 and 12:45 a.m., Tucson Police
Officer Ramon Batista noticed a man he later identified as defendant
drive into a convenience store parking lot across the road from where
Batista was parked. Officer Batista noted the make and color of
defendant's car. After watching defendant talk to another man for a few
minutes, Officer Batista drove through the convenience store parking lot,
observing that defendant was wearing torn jeans over spandex shorts and
a white T-shirt.
approximately 1:45 a.m., Officer Batista again noticed defendant's car
in downtown Tucson. Contrary to the earlier convenience store sighting
where the officer recalled the car was running cleanly, the car was now
smoking heavily and leaving a trail of oil. Officer Batista pulled
defendant over, and with defendant out of his car, observed that his
hands, arms, legs, shoes, and shirt appeared to be smeared with blood
and fecal matter, his shirt was torn, and he smelled of feces. The
officer noted that defendant had removed his jeans and was now wearing
spandex shorts with the same T-shirt. Explaining his condition,
defendant said he had fought with the man seen with him by the officer
earlier that evening.
Another police officer, Sergeant Victor Chacon, drove by and stopped
when he observed defendant's appearance. Sgt. Chacon expressed concern
about the condition of the man with whom defendant had allegedly fought
and asked defendant to take the officers to the scene of the fight.
Defendant rode unrestrained in the back seat of Officer Batista's patrol
vehicle. Upon arrival at the purported scene, however, the officers were
unable to find any signs of an altercation, injuries to the other man,
or the cause of the oil leak in defendant's car. Sgt. Chacon called
another police officer to take photographs of defendant, who consented
to being photographed. Officer Batista noticed that defendant was
flushed and his breath smelled of beer and concluded that he had been
drinking. However, Officer Batista also testified that defendant's
actions evidenced no physical or mental impairment. Officer Batista
issued defendant a repair order for his car and released him no later
than 2:30 a.m. Friday, May 19. After defendant arrived home a short time
later, he told his roommate's girlfriend that he had had a fight with a
man and he was not certain if the man were alive or dead.
On Monday morning, May 22, a horseback rider
discovered Ruby Reid's naked and decomposing body in the desert on the
outskirts of Tucson. At the scene, police detectives observed tire
tracks leading back to the pavement, oil stains in the dirt, footprints,
and drag marks in the dirt leading away from the body. They also found
feces-stained pants, tennis shoes, socks, a used tampon, and a torn
brassiere. Two blood-stained rocks lay next to the body.
The medical examiner testified that, due to the
advanced state of decomposition, he could not determine the full extent
and nature of the victim's injuries. For the same reason, the examiner
was unable to confirm or reject the presence of semen. The injuries he
was able to catalog included: bruising on the legs, arms, and back;
bruising and abrasions on the buttocks; several broken ribs; internal
bleeding; a broken jaw; several head lacerations; and a skull fracture
where the skull had been "shoved in." The examiner concluded that the
cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head.
The police were initially unable to develop leads
in the case. However, on Wednesday, May 24, at the police station, the
officer who had photographed defendant the previous Friday morning
encountered the investigating detective in the Reid murder. The events
of Friday night, May 19, were mentioned during their conversation,
causing the detective to sense that the blood- and feces-covered driver
might be connected to the murder. Accordingly, the detective obtained a
search warrant for defendant's apartment and car. In addition, the
detective ran a computer check and discovered that defendant was subject
to several outstanding warrants for unsatisfied traffic citations. The
defendant was at home when the detective and other officers executed the
warrant at 1:30 a.m. on May 25 and arrested him based on the outstanding
At the police
station, defendant was advised of his Miranda rights and, upon
questioning, confessed to the murder of Ruby Reid. He claimed that he "picked
up" Ms. Reid at a convenience store and that she voluntarily went with
him, intending to "party." After they arrived in the desert, defendant
said that Ms. Reid reneged on her promise to have sex with him and that
they fought. He stated that Ms. Reid slapped him and that he punched her
in the mouth. He admitted further that he removed her clothing and had
vaginal intercourse with her. Finally, defendant confessed that he hit
Ms. Reid in the head with a rock more than once to make her stop yelling.
He then left, not knowing if she were alive or dead. Shortly thereafter
he was stopped in downtown Tucson by Officer Batista.
When the detectives searched defendant's car,
they found blood spatter in various locations inside the trunk. The
investigating criminologist was able to determine that some of the blood
was not consistent with defendant's blood characteristics.
Christopher John Spreitz