Man Convicted In 3-Year-Old Domestic Violence Shooting Case

Advertisement

Manuel Diaz, who shot his estranged wife in the chest more than three years ago, has been convicted of attempted second degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault.

The conviction was handed down April 28.

photo

Manuel Diaz

Sentencing is scheduled for May 16 in front of Judge Peter Cahill. Diaz faces a possible sentence ranging from 7 to 23 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Diaz's wife, Francisca Alatriz, then 46, of Star Valley, was in her car at 7:30 a.m. April 12, 2003 at the intersection of Moonlight Drive and Highway 260 when she was shot in the chest by her husband.

Manuel Diaz pulled alongside Francisca as she drove from her home in Star Valley to her job at the Mazatzal Casino. Francisca said she rolled down her window, thinking Diaz wanted to talk to her.

Instead, he pulled out a pistol and fired.

Alatriz remembers saying, "God help me," as the bullets penetrated her body. She managed to drive to the Circle K in Star Valley where she sought help.

"Diaz fired six rounds at her," said Det. Brian Havey of the Gila County Sheriff's Office.

Alatriz was hit twice, according to Havey. One bullet caused two wounds, entering and exiting her body, but resulted in only a superficial injury, he said. The second bullet remains in Alatriz's body because to remove it would cause nerve damage, the detective said.

Accounting for the other rounds, "Three hit the driver's side door and one hit the opposite side door," Havey said.

This was the first documented shooting related to domestic violence in the area, a spokesperson for the Time Out Shelter for victims of domestic violence said at the time of the incident.

Since the shooting, Alatriz has been vocal about domestic violence.

In December 2005, she and her two children, Leticia and Victor, qualified to compete in perhaps one of the largest and most prestigious martial arts tournaments. She intends to use the international forum to bring attention to domestic violence.

"A lady of her age and bullet wounds -- two near fatal -- to take up an endeavor such as karate is amazing," said Roscoe Dabney, Tonto Apache Tribe police officer.

Through the whole ordeal of the shooting, recovery, waiting for the trial and finally seeing Diaz convicted, the Alatriz family stayed positive and focused through martial arts.

"It (has become) more than a sport. It became our way out of domestic violence," Leticia said.

Victor followed his sister's passion a few years after she began; and after recovering from her gunshot wounds, Francisca joined her children at the sport two years ago.

The Alatriz family practices a Korean form of martial arts, called Hwa Rang Do, with master Chris Bailey at the Karate-Kung Fu Center.

Victor and Leticia wear green sashes -- the fourth level of mastery. Alatriz competes on the third level of Hwa Rang Do and wears the yellow sash.

"My death would have been senseless," Francisca said. "I'd rather die in the ring.

"Domestic violence is something that is so serious," she said. "Unfortunately, it happens every day."

In addition to fighting for battered women, she is writing a book about her life. She plans to donate proceeds to victims.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.