Hatch police officer's killer receives life sentence
September 07, 2017 05:14 PM
LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- The man who shot and killed a Hatch police officer last year will spend the rest of his life in prison after he was sentenced Thursday afternoon.
Ohio native Jesse Hanes took a plea deal in May, agreeing to serve life in prison for murdering Hatch officer Jose Chavez. Hanes pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, admitting he killed Chavez during a traffic stop in August 2016.
Hanes was a fugitive wanted in connection with a murder in Ohio when he shot Chavez. Chavez was a two-year veteran of the Hatch Police Department and leaves behind a wife and two children.
Before Hanes was officially sentenced, the defense told the judge he took the plea deal to spare Chavez's family the pain of going through a trial. Hanes offered a brief apology in court.
"I'd like to apologize to the family of the officer and let them know I'm sorry," he said.
Chavez's family sat in the courtroom as a victim's advocate read letters from his father, mother and sister -- asking the judge to send Hanes to a maximum security prison. Chavez's mother wept as her letter was read.
"The death of my son has left an unimaginable emptiness in my heart," the advocate read aloud. "However I will always feel very happy and proud to have had a police officer as a son with such courage as he did."
The victim's advocate also read a letter from Chavez's father, describing the family's unimaginable loss.
"With this that's happened, I feel that it has changed my life forever," the advocate told the court, quoting Chavez's father. "It's filled with sadness and tragedy because losing my son has been the worst thing that has ever happened to me."
After the hearing, the Third Judicial District Attorney's Office released a statement. District Attorney Mark D'Antonio expressed gratitude to the law enforcement officers -- both local and federal -- with their help on the case, ensuring the Chavez family would not experience "the horror of a jury trial."
"Today’s sentencing closes the book on an incredibly painful chapter for our community," D’Antonio said. "While no amount of justice can erase the pain and suffering of the Chavez family, we can only hope that this provides them with some comfort."
Updated: September 07, 2017 05:14 PM
Created: September 07, 2017 03:21 PM
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