Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Crime spree has familiar overtones

Accused half of 'Bonnie and Clyde'

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A man accused of trying to mow down a Manitoba RCMP officer during a provincewide crime spree had recently finished a prison sentence for an eerily similar series of incidents, the Free Press has learned.

Matthew Martens, 23, was arrested last weekend following multiple car thefts, an armed robbery and a high-speed chase. He is facing 10 charges, including attempted murder of the Mountie, who narrowly avoided being struck on the Trans-Canada Highway. The officer then opened fire on the vehicle, which sped away.

Brittany Kehler, 24, is facing seven charges after allegedly being Martens' partner in crime. None of the allegations against the pair has been proven and they are presumed innocent. Both are being held in custody without bail in Winnipeg.

Martens is originally from Winnipeg but listed by RCMP as being a resident of Coaldale, Alta. Sources told the Free Press he served his prison sentence out west and remained there upon his release. Kehler is a resident of Winnipeg.

Police began investigating Friday after a man and a woman committed a holdup at a business in La Broquerie and a car theft in Falcon Beach. Although the suspects got away, RCMP had a description of the vehicle and spotted it Saturday in the area of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 302.

Officers tried to pull them over by blocking the roadway but said the accused deliberately tried to hit one of the officers.

There were no serious injuries. RCMP continued to chase the vehicle but eventually called it off, fearing public safety was at risk by the dangerous driving of the man behind the wheel, which included excessive speeds.

However, police managed to pick up the trail just before midnight Saturday, locating two suspects near Brandon. Both were arrested without further incident.

Martens is no stranger to local justice officials. He was sentenced in 2010 to three years in prison, in addition to one year of time served, after admitting to fleeing police and driving a stolen car up to 200 kilometres an hour into oncoming highway traffic while trying to dodge a spike belt.

"This is a young man who's going to come back into society. Frankly, that's a scary proposition at this point," Crown attorney Liz Laite told court at the time.

Martens, then 19, pleaded guilty to 33 separate offences stemming from a brazen, cross-country series of incidents that put numerous lives at risk and left a trail of damage in its wake.

He admitted spending an entire month wreaking havoc across the Prairies by stealing vehicles, gas and property -- and documenting many of the crimes through photographs and videos taken by his then-16-year-old girlfriend.

The images show the couple -- whom some justice officials have dubbed "Bonnie and Clyde" -- taunting police, drinking and driving, boasting to their friends and celebrating their accomplishments by dancing and making out on the top of stolen vehicles.

The rampage from August to September 2009 resulted in multiple counts of auto theft and mischief, plus possession of stolen property and dangerous driving stemming from several high-speed chases with police in Manitoba and Saskatchewan that had to be aborted because of the risk to the public.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 3, 2014 A8

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