A.J. councilman to be arraigned Friday in road-rage case - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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A.J. councilman to be arraigned Friday in road-rage case

Eck has resigned vice mayor's post but remains on council

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Posted: Thursday, October 14, 2010 11:45 am

Former Apache Junction vice mayor Robert Eck is set to begin court proceedings for aggravated assault-related charges in connection with a 2009 road-rage incident involving a Gold Canyon man and his wife.

Robert Eck Jr. will be arraigned on two counts of aggravated assault, one count of criminal damage, one count of DUI and assault Friday in Pinal County Superior Court before Judge Dwight Callahan in connection with a road rage incident involving Eck and his son that left Eric Martinez, 35, and his wife, Christine, 32, injured. They say Eck purposely slammed his truck into their motorcycle twice.

The confrontation happened moments before Eck’s son, Robert Eck III, hit the motorcyclist in the back with a steel pole and about 30 minutes after Eck was escorted off the grounds of Central Arizona College where he voiced displeasure with a female worker for not admitting his 21-year-old son into “fun” classes, according to documents from Central Arizona College.

“This has been a long time coming,” Martinez told the Tribune. “He and his son have been involved in other similar incidents, but he always seems to get out of it because of who he is. My wife and I could’ve been killed.”

Eck, who resigned from his post as vice mayor last month but retains his position as a council member, was indicted on the charges by a Gila County grand jury due to a conflict of interest within the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, according to Kostas Kalaitzidis, spokesman for the Pinal County Attorney’s Office.

On Oct. 2, 2009, Eck’s vehicle slammed into the back of Eric Martinez’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle as it was stopped at a red light at Idaho Road and Old West Highway in Apache Junction, according to police reports and information from the Pinal County Attorney’s Office. Martinez, a Mesa resident who lived in Gold Canyon at the time, got off his motorcycle and also was confronted by Eck’s passenger, his son, who allegedly struck Martinez with a metal pole.

Martinez admitted to punching Eck in the face, who again slammed into the motorcycle with Martinez’s wife sitting on the back, knocking her off and causing minor back injuries, according to court documents.

She was flown to a nearby hospital for her injuries, and Eck was transported to a hospital for evaluation.

Martinez received two misdemeanor assault charges for the confrontation, but Martinez maintains the younger Eck injured him when he struck him in the back with the pole, aggravating a previous spinal injury.

Authorities also have recommended assault-related charges be filed against Robert Eck III in connection to him allegedly striking Martinez with the pole.

Martinez has filed a civil lawsuit against Eck, seeking damages for his injuries, duress and more than $7,000 damage that was done to his motorcycle after Eck allegedly ran over it.

“It’s not about the money,” Martinez said. “It’s about what’s right and what’s wrong.”

That lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in Pinal County Superior Court in November.

Eck’s attorney, James Tinker, could not be reached for comment.

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