Man who threw away severed arm let off probation early

2013-02-21T13:10:00Z 2013-02-21T13:36:15Z Man who threw away severed arm let off probation earlyKim Smith Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 21, 2013 1:10 pm  • 

In December 2010, Joseph Maverick was given 30 days in jail and placed on three years' probation in a bizarre case that garnered a lot of attention.

This morning, Judge Deborah Bernini agreed to let Maverick off probation early after learning he's done well on probation and it might interfer with his ability to adopt two children whose mother died last year.

Maverick told the judge he has lost out on a lot of opportunities because of his actions and "rightfully so," but he wants to be a good role model for his two kids and the two he and his wife hope to adopt.

"Of all the things you said, the 'rightfully so' helped me make up my mind," Judge Bernini said.

The state objected to the early termination, noting Maverick acted callously and calculatedly at the time of the crime and his victim is still living without his arm.

Aaron Soetaert and Scott Michaels were bar-hopping on Sept. 14, 2009, when their designated driver left them at Club Congress, according to court documents and testimony. Michaels ran into Maverick, an acquaintance, and asked him for a ride home.

Once he was in Maverick's car, Michaels got into an argument over the phone with the designated driver. Maverick became upset and told the men to get out of the vehicle, court documents state.

Michaels got out and then jumped into the back seat, but when Soetaert tried to get into the front, Maverick locked the door.

Maverick then drove forward, stopped and drove forward repeatedly before taking off at high speed with Soetaert clinging to the side of the vehicle, according to court documents.

When Maverick hit a pole or tree, Soetaert's arm was severed and it fell inside the vehicle; Soetaert fell outside near North Fourth Avenue and East Seventh Street.

A short time later, Maverick pulled over and Michaels got out.

Seven minutes after witnesses called 911 to report the crash, Maverick called 911 to report that his vehicle had been stolen.

Police found Maverick's bloodied vehicle in the 1200 block of East 10th Street and Soetaert's arm in a trash bin 75 feet away, according to court documents.

Maverick denied knowledge of the crash when he spoke with authorities several hours after the incident, until he was confronted about the arm.

Maverick then told police that he was driving erratically because Michaels almost choked him into unconsciousness. He said the last time he saw Soetaert, the man was walking toward a sidewalk. Maverick denied knowing that Soetaert had fallen from his vehicle, and he didn't equate the severed arm with Soetaert.

He said he threw the arm away because of a "psychological breakdown."

Although Maverick was on unsupervised probation for driving under the influence, he denied having anything to drink that night.

Maverick went to trial in October 2010 and was convicted of leaving the scene after causing a crash resulting in serious physical injury and tampering with evidence.

Soetaert, who was an Air Force military police officer, received a medical discharge.

Maverick had left the Army shortly before the incident. He was working for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C., but resigned last July because his colleagues made "insensitive comments" about the incident, court documents state.

Maverick, who now lives in Prescott, hopes to move back East again. He also plans to re-apply for a job at the VA.


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