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Christopher John SPREITZ

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 19, 1989
Date of arrest: 6 days after
Date of birth: June 10, 1966
Victim profile: Ruby Reid
Method of murder: Crushing her skull with a rock
Location: Pima County, Arizona, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on December 21, 1994
 
 

 

The Supreme Court of Arizona

 

opinion CR-00-0569-PC

 
 

 
 

ADC#110047
Date of Birth:
June 10, 1966
Defendant: Caucasian
Victim: Caucasian

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 leaking oil.

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 released him.

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 rock.

Spreitz was convicted of first-degree murder (both premeditation and felony-murder), sexual assault, and kidnapping.

PROCEEDINGS

    Presiding Judge: William Sherrill
    Prosecutor: Kathleen Mayer
    Start of Trial: August 9, 1994
    Verdict:  August 18, 1994
    Sentencing: December 21, 1994

Aggravating Circumstances:

    Especially cruel

Mitigating Circumstances:

    Insufficient to outweigh aggravating circumstances or to call for leniency

PUBLISHED OPINIONS

State v. Spreitz, 190 Ariz. 129, 945 P.2d 1260 (1997).
State v. Spreitz, 202 Ariz. 1, 39 P.3d 525 (2002).

 


Facts

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.

At 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 warrants.

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

 

 

 
 
 
 
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