Suspect pleads guilty to Hatch officer's murder | KOB 4

Suspect pleads guilty to Hatch officer's murder

J.R. Oppenheim
May 31, 2017 05:23 PM

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- An Ohio man admitted in court to killing a Hatch police officer last year, pleading guilty to state murder charges Wednesday. This comes one day after reaching an agreement with prosecutors on federal charges.


The suspect, Jesse Hanes, agreed to serve a sentence of life without parole for slaying Hatch officer Jose Chavez during a traffic stop last August, the Doña Ana County District Attorney's Office confirmed to KOB.

"Today is a very satisfying day, but also an extremely sad day of remembering a fallen officer," District Attorney Mark D'Antonio said. "Today's guilty plea is the culmination of the selfless work of numerous law enforcement officers and agencies, working together in pursuit of justice.

Click here to read the plea agreement

Hanes, a 39-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, also pleaded guilty to attempted carjacking and other federal charges, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. On the federal charges, Hanes received a life sentence.

The sentence on the state charges will run concurrent to the federal sentence, the district attorney's office told KOB. He will serve his time in federal prison.

As part of the state plea agreement, Hanes' six other state charges were dropped -- drug trafficking, drug possession with intent to distribute, aggravated fleeing, two counts of aggravated assault, and use or possession of drug paraphernalia. He still faces a murder charge in Ohio.

"The results could not have been better," D'Antonio said. "The agreement is that the defendant is to serve a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Today's plea agreement spares Officer Chavez's family the painful ordeal of a jury trial. It also spares the taxpayers of New Mexico the cost of a trial. This is justice in action, and justice in the result."

On Aug. 12, 2015, Chavez pulled over a silver Lexus with Hanes and two other people inside. A Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office spokesperson said at the time a second officer saw Chavez reach for his weapon when a man in the passenger seat shot Chavez.

The three people then fled the scene, prompting a pursuit on I-25. Police eventually apprehended Hanes, 36-year-old James Nelson and a 62-year-old hitchhiker. Investigators said Hanes shot Chavez in the upper body.

Chavez was a two-year veteran of the Hatch Police Department.


J.R. Oppenheim

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