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30 year old Maricopa man sentenced to 12 years after attempting to strike officers with a stolen vehicle
Date: 12/16/2013
30 year old Maricopa man sentenced to 12 years after attempting to strike officers with a stolen vehicle

30 year old Maricopa man sentenced to 12 years after attempting to strike officers with a stolen vehicle

FLORENCE, AZ (12/16/13) – Joseph Burns, 30 of the City of Maricopa, was sentenced to 12 years of prison on Monday, December 9, after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated assault on an officer.

According to the DPS Charging Summary, in the early morning hours of March 14, the Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force (VTTF) received a tip regarding a stolen vehicle.  They were informed the stolen truck was located in a motel parking lot on East Main Street in Mesa and that the driver was armed.

The police record continues to say shortly after AZ DPS, and member of VTTF, located and confirmed identification of the reportedly stolen truck, VTTF began to follow the vehicle as it left the motel and drove into Pinal County.

Additional law enforcement from VTTF, including deputies from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and officers from Apache Junction Police Department, arrived in the area and the decision was made to contact Burns as he sat in the vehicle in a parking lot next to Circle Cross Ranch Park, in San Tan Valley, AZ.

Detectives positioned their vehicles nose-to-nose with the stolen truck and another directly behind it.  Officers exited their vehicles and began issuing commands when Burns put the truck in reverse and rammed one law enforcement’s vehicle causing the VTTF detective to jump out of the way to avoid being struck.  Burns, then, put the truck in drive and rammed the other detective’s vehicle directly in front of him, pushing it aside.

The Charging Summary indicates that at that moment, additional officers used their vehicles to pin the stolen truck against an island in the parking lot.  Officers heard Burns engage the accelerator.  At that point, officers opened fire and struck him under the left arm.  He immediately became compliant and was taken into custody. 

After pleading guilty, Burns faced a sentencing range of 7-13 years for the each count of aggravated assault against an officer, both class 2 dangerous felonies.  A Pinal County prosecutor successfully argued the importance of supporting and protecting our law enforcement before Honorable Judge Gooday, who sentenced Burns to two-12 year prison sentences, to run concurrently.

Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles stated, “This individual made the mistake of crossing into Pinal, where we now work united with our law enforcement partners throughout the state to bring justice to dangerous and violent individuals.  The truly unique and important attribute of this successfully investigated and prosecuted case is that both the Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force and the prosecutor assigned to this case receive funding through grants provided by the Arizona Auto Theft Authority, a state agency established to deter vehicle theft by supporting law enforcement and vertical prosecution.”  Voyles added, “If you plan on stealing a vehicle or assaulting a law enforcement officer, I recommend using an alternate route, rather than traveling through Pinal County.”

Brian Salata, Executive Director of the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority, said, “Vehicle Theft in Arizona is commonly a crime that facilitates the most violent crimes in the State.  The Arizona Automobile Theft Authority has taken an aggressive statewide approach to the problem, supporting our Task Force and grant funded prosecutors.   This case provides an outstanding example of the optimal results that are achieved when there is coordinated management of law enforcement and prosecution assets.  The vertical prosecution model employed by the Pinal County Attorney is by far the most effective means of combating crime and making our communities safe.”  Director Salata went on to say, “The conviction and sentence imposed in this matter is the result of the laudable efforts of the Vehicle Theft Task Force, Pinal County Sherriff, Apache Junction Police Department, DPS and the Pinal County Attorney.  These collaborative strategies that we champion result in the type of outcome that our citizens expect and deserve.”

For more information, contact Jim Knupp at 520.866.6573 or by email at


Tiffany Davila
County Attorney's PIO
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County Attorney
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30 N. Florence St
Building D
Florence, AZ 85132

Office: 520.866.6271
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