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Killing of Manzano student results in 12-year sentence

Dominic Conyers is led out of the courtroom after being sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in the deadly drive-by shooting of Jaydon Chavez-Silver. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 21-year-old man was sentenced Wednesday to 12 years in prison for his involvement in the June 2015 drive-by shooting that left a beloved Manzano High School student dead.

Dominic Conyers pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and shooting at an occupied dwelling. Conyers is one of three charged in the shooting and the second to be sentenced.

The terms of his plea agreement specified that he would be sentenced to 12 years, followed by five years of supervised probation.

Michael Patrick, spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, said Conyers didn’t fire shots that day, but that he and the two others concocted a plan to kill a man who beat up Conyers weeks before.

That man lived at a house on Nakomis where Jaydon Chavez-Silver, 17, had been hanging out with friends, Patrick said. Shots intended for that man hit Chavez-Silver in the neck, killing him.

Conyers’ attorney Kathleen Rhinehart disputed the state’s version of events. She said her client had no motivation to kill anyone and was simply a passenger in the car. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, she said.

“(He) got into the car with a couple of lunatics who did have guns and who did shoot,” Rhinehart said. She said Conyers had no criminal record and came from a wonderful family. Conyers did not address the court.

His mother, Nicole Conyers, said her son was loving and kind and helped care for his grandmother and niece.

“Everyone that has dealt with Dominic on a personal basis, whether it be a pretrial officer or the nice lady at the supermarket,” she said, “they always remark about how kind and nice he is.”

Multiple people addressed 2nd Judicial District Judge Benjamin Chavez to talk about Chavez-Silver, a talented Manzano High School athlete who dreamed of becoming a pilot. His mother, Nicole Chavez-Lucero, described the pain of a drawn-out investigation, which left her family desperate for answers. Conyers spent that time hoping he wouldn’t get caught, she said, and has never admitted his guilt. He took an Alford plea, which lets a defendant acknowledge that evidence could support a conviction, while maintaining innocence.

“Compassion is the one thing that I do not have,” Chavez-Lucero said. “He doesn’t deserve it. Not from me, not from anyone. It was a very senseless tragedy that my family now has to live with forever.”

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