Dominic Conyers pleaded guilty before District Judge Benjamin Chavez to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and shooting at an occupied dwelling. He took an Alford plea, which allows defendants to assert innocence while acknowledging that evidence could support a conviction. Conyers’ trial was scheduled to begin Monday.
Under the terms of his agreement, he faces 12 years in prison. He will be sentenced Wednesday morning.
Chavez-Silver was hanging out with friends at a home on Nakomis when he was struck in the neck by a bullet not intended for him, according to police.
Michael Patrick, spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, said Conyers had been badly beaten up in a fight, and the group hatched a plan to shoot the person responsible. That person lived at the Nakomis home.
“There was a conspiracy between at least one, if not two, other individuals in the car,” prosecutor Penny Gilbert said in court, “to go to this residence to retaliate and shoot an individual living at the residence.”
Though police originally said Conyers was one of three to shoot at the home, Patrick said Conyers never fired. His plea to shooting at a dwelling was based on “aiding and abetting.”
Conyers, 21, originally faced five charges, including murder.
Gilbert said the state would have shown at trial that Conyers “did conspire with two other individuals” to drive to the home “and shoot a particular occupant of that residence.”
Instead, police say, the shots hit Chavez-Silver, 17, who had just been accepted into the Air Force Academy.
Conyers is the second of three teens charged in the case to take a plea deal. His attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Nicholas Gonzales, a juvenile, was sentenced in February to one year in the custody of the Children, Youth and Families Department.
As part of his plea agreement, Gonzales agreed to testify against Conyers and Esias Madrid, the third person charged in the shooting. Madrid is scheduled for trial in September.
Chavez-Silver’s mother, Nicole Chavez-Lucero, said Thursday’s plea and a decision by Chavez that Conyers should immediately be taken into custody represented “two big wins.”
“We’re just grateful that we’re finally getting to see great results through the judicial system,” she said after the hearing. “All these court dates are so emotional and time consuming.”