Secret love ends with assault accusation

Graham County

SAFFORD – A love affair between a former inmate and his corrections officer ended poorly Sept. 1 after he was struck in his head with a frying pan.

Officers were initially dispatched to 1208 S. 1st Ave. at about 8:13 p.m. regarding a burglar who had broken into the caller’s residence and assaulted her. The caller, Alexis Carino, 21, said the man had already left the residence.

An officer responding to the scene came upon a man who matched the suspect’s description sitting on a curb in front of B&M Guns at 1022 S. 1st Ave. The officer noted the man, later identified as Christopher Perez, 24, had fresh and dried blood on his face, shoulder, shorts and shoes.

After initially denying knowledge of the situation, Perez admitted to knowing Carino and said she was a friend of his girlfriend, Marlene Garcia, 32. He said he and Garcia had gotten into a verbal argument with Garcia at Carino’s apartment and Carino had struck him with a frying pan, causing him to bleed.

Perez said Carino drove himself and Garcia to her apartment. He added that he has been dating Garcia since he was locked up in the Arizona Department of Corrections prison where she works as a detention officer and now lived with her and her mother in Pima. He offered up a bag of his clothes at Garcia’s mother’s residence as proof.

Carino told officers that she didn’t know Perez and that she was in her apartment when he suddenly barged in and attacked her. She said she then hit him with the frying pan out of self-defense. She added that Garcia was in the bathroom the whole time and didn’t see anything.

Garcia told officers that she was not in a relationship with Perez and a bag of his clothes were at his mother’s house because he tracked her down and left them outside the residence. A cell phone located on Perez showed conversations between Garcia and Perez, but Garcia flatly denied being in a romantic relationship with him.

Later, Carino admitted to knowing Perez and that she had actually picked him and Garcia up at Garcia’s mother’s house in Pima and drove them to her apartment. Carino said Garcia had begged her to lie for her so Garcia wouldn’t lose her job for having an inappropriate relationship with an inmate.

Garcia also came clean and admitted being in a relationship with Perez, according to a Safford Police report. She said she had an argument with Perez, and, when it turned physical, Carino came to her aid and struck him with the frying pan.

During the interrogation, a small amount of marijuana and a marijuana grinder were found on Perez. He was ultimately arrested and booked into the Graham County Jail on charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The officer’s report was sent to the Safford City Attorney for review of possible charges against Carino and Garcia for false reporting to law enforcement and any additional charges against Perez.

As he was being booked, Perez told the officer Garcia could keep his bag of clothes because he just “wanted the hell out of Safford” and would not be coming back.