Sierra Vista Man Racks Up A Dozen Infractions During First Year In Prison

Joseph Ahrens [Photo courtesy Sierra Vista Police Department]

A Sierra Vista man serving 15 years in state prison for three unrelated felonies he committed in 2019 and 2020 has not had an easy time adjusting to his incarceration, according to public records.

Joseph Warren Ahrens was sentenced to prison last October for engaging in a drive-by shooting, committing kidnapping, and involvement in a drug office. Although the kidnapping and drug convictions each carry a five-year sentence, Ahrens is serving them concurrently, or at the same time, as the 15 years imposed in the drive-by shooting case.

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The Arizona Department of Corrections shows Ahrens, now 20, is eligible to earn early release credits, but his inmate account reveals a dozen disciplinary infractions since he went into ADC custody in November 2020. Six of the infractions are designated major: fighting (twice), refusing a program or job assignment (twice), positive or refused urine analysis, and possession of a weapon.

Major infractions count against Ahrens’ opportunity for early release unless re-earned by good behavior in the future.

Ahrens was 18 when arrested by the Sierra Vista Police Department in May 2020 for his involvement in a drive-by shooting during which he fired at three people in a vehicle. However, several of the bullets penetrated two nearby occupied residences, with one bullet nearly striking a small child playing in her bedroom.

The May 2020 shooting resulted in several felonies filed against Ahrens, who eventually accepted a global plea deal offered by the Cochise County Attorney’s Office to resolve the shooting as well as an April 2020 kidnapping charge and a November 2019 drug charge.

Once he is released from prison, Ahrens must serve five years of intensive supervised probation for a fourth prosecution which involves a 2019 armed robbery. In that case, Ahrens was present when a man was struck on the head with a gun and knocked unconscious, after which the man’s phone and money were stolen.

Court records note Ahrens or an accomplice may have committed the armed robbery, but under state law all parties participating in an armed robbery can be held responsible for the actions of the other participants if someone is injured.

One of the people Ahrens admitted shooting at in May 2020 was Rick Walter Martin, who a few months later would be arrested for first-degree murder when Jorge Portillo was fatally shot in the head as he drove on a busy Sierra Vista roadway. Witnesses put Martin in a vehicle next to Portillo’s truck.

Martin is being held in custody without bail to await trial next year.