2013-01-16T00:00:00Z 2013-01-16T08:34:54Z Sheriff’s Dept. faces wrongful-death suitKim Smith Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Edith “Lynn” Marques remembers deputies passing her and her husband twice on April 1, 2011, with their lights and sirens on. She has no recollection of the crash moments later that took her husband’s life.

Marques took the stand Tuesday in Pima County Superior Court Judge Carmine Cornelio’s courtroom. She and her 11 children filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Pima County Sheriff’s Department as a result of the death of her husband, Joseph. Tuesday was the first day of the trial.

Marques’ attorney, James Abraham, told jurors during opening statements that Joseph Marques died because deputies violated a department policy that the safety of the public must take a priority over the arrest of a suspect.

In this case, Abraham said, deputies repeatedly refused to stop chasing a shoplifter – a shoplifter who eventually ran a red light, hitting the Marques vehicle and killing Joseph, 73.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Nancy Davis told jurors the deputies were not pursuing Patrick Gutierrez that afternoon; they were following a robbery suspect.

Eventually, Gutierrez stopped at a stop sign, Davis said.

Unfortunately, there was no way Lt. Scott Martin, who was with Gutierrez at the stop sign, could have predicted Gutierrez was going to take off and run a red light eight seconds later – when he turned on his lights, Davis said.

“The only person responsible (for Marques’ death) is the person who ran the red light, Patrick Gutierrez,” Davis told jurors.

Lynn Marques testified she and Joseph and their youngest child, Andrew, 9, were returning from a weeklong trip to San Diego.

Joseph always took the Ina Road exit to make their way to their home in the Catalina Foothills, she said.

After running into congested traffic and being passed by the deputies, Marques said she and Joseph discussed finding an alternate route, but being unfamiliar with that part of town, decided to continue on.

She doesn’t remember being hit by Gutierrez’s vehicle, being sent through the intersection of La CaƱada Drive and Ina Road, hitting another vehicle or hitting a garage.

She does recall a voice asking her to turn off the engine, and the same voice urgently telling her she needed to get out of the suddenly smoky car and grabbing her rescuer’s neck.

When she got out of the car, Andrew was sitting on the driveway with a blank look on his face.

Moments later, she saw Joseph sitting up on a gurney.

“I thought things were going to be OK,” Marques said.

She put her hand on his shoulder, but she can’t remember what she told him before he was whisked away in an ambulance, Marques said.

“Did you ever talk to him again?” Abraham asked her.

“I talked to him, but he didn’t talk to me,” Abraham said, her voice cracking.

He died six days later.

Gutierrez, 45, was sentenced to 18 years in prison in September after pleading guilty to second-degree murder, robbery and two counts of endangerment.

On StarNet: Follow the news at Pima County’s courthouses in Kim Smith’s blog, At the Courthouse, at azstarnet.com/courthouse

Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or kimsmith@azstarnet.com