The story was almost as infuriating as it was tragic:
A veteran police officer makes a so-called "routine" stop of a vehicle on a Maricopa County road. The vehicle is occupied by two men.
The driver of the car has an outstanding warrant for his arrest, and has served time in prison for committing violent acts.
The driver shoots the officer in cold blood and flees, only to be captured in due course.
It was the sickest case of deja vu all over again. And get this -- the two assassins (one only "alleged" at this point, though the evidence seems overwhelming), as it turns out, are apparently old friends from up in the old mining town of Globe.
First, there was Ernest Martinez -- and the August 15, 1995, murder of Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Robert K. Martin, a 27-year veteran of the agency.
Late that morning, Officer Martin pulled over a speeding, swerving car heading south on the Beeline Highway toward Phoenix.
Ernesto Salgado Martinez, a resident of Globe with a long criminal record, had a warrant out for his arrest. Earlier, he had told his passenger that he wasn't going back to jail if a cop stopped him.
Intending to keep that promise, Martinez shot Officer Martin to death with a .38-caliber handgun, and fled. Police arrested him the next day in Coachella, California.
The comparison to the murder last week of beloved Gilbert Lieutenant Eric Shuhandler was inevitable -- and now it's downright uncanny.
Get this: Law enforcement types tell us that Ernest Martinez--now on Arizona's death row--and Lt. Shuhandler's alleged killer, 35-year-old Christopher Redondo, have been homies for a long time and used to run together back in Globe, where both men were raised and began to commit crimes as young teens.
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In Martinez's case, court records show that he phoned a pal after his arrest and laughingly told him he'd gotten "busted for blasting a jura," a police officer.
In Redondo's case, police are alleging that he bragged to friends in text messages during the wild 60-mile police chase that ended in his (and his passenger's) arrest up near Superior about having just shot a cop.
As sure as we're writing this, Christopher Redondo will end up in the same residence as his compadre Ernesto Martinez--a not-so-charming bed and breakfast (and little more) called Death Row.
Maybe they'll even get to compare notes.