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Drive-by passengers testify in murder trial

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Jurors in the murder trial for Esias Madrid heard testimony Wednesday from three people who prosecutors say were in the car with him during a deadly drive-by shooting.

That includes Nicholas Gonzales, who fired shots into the home and has since taken a plea deal that requires him to testify on the state’s behalf in exchange for a juvenile sentence.

According to prosecutors, Madrid, Gonzales and Dominic Conyers conspired to retaliate against a man who lived at a home on Nakomis NE. On June 26, 2015, Madrid and Gonzales fired into the house, prosecutors said, killing an innocent bystander. Jaydon Chavez-Silver, a Manzano High School student, had been partying at the home that night, and was fatally shot in the neck.

Gonzales’ testimony Wednesday was largely consistent with the state’s theory of the case, and he admitted firing two to three shots into the home before his gun jammed.

As he questioned Gonzales, defense attorney Daniel Salazar zeroed in on an interaction that took place minutes before the shooting.

Gonzales testified that he got out of his vehicle, walked to the front door of the home on Nakomis, where he planned to knock and then shoot the person the group was after. But Madrid stopped him, pointing out that other people were inside the house.

“That would indicate to you that Esias didn’t want anybody else to get hurt. Right?” Salazar asked.

“Yes, sir,” Gonzales answered.

Aaron Blea shows during his testimony how Nicholas Gonzales, another witness, positioned his body while firing a gun, during the trial of Esias Madrid, who is accused of murder in the drive-by shooting death of Jaydon Chavez-Silver. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)

Sabrina Romero and Aaron Blea, the other two passengers, also testified that Madrid and Gonzales were the shooters. They said they had no idea when they met up with their friends that the night would include a shooting.

“I thought we were just going to party and have fun,” Blea said, “but that’s not the way it happened.”

He and Romero said they never contacted police because they were afraid they could be in trouble, too. Asked by prosecutor John Duran how he felt afterward, Blea said he thought his life was ruined.

“Like I was about to go to prison for the rest of my life,” he said.

In his cross examination, Salazar suggested that Blea just went along with the version of events police presented to him. He said police told Blea what they thought happened, which meant Blea “knew what they wanted to hear.”

“And you want to stay out of jail?” Salazar said. “And the best way to do that is to tell the (prosecution) what they want to hear.”

“Correct,” Blea said.

Blea, who said repeatedly that he could not remember details of the night, said the other passengers encouraged Madrid to take part. And Salazar read from previous testimony in which Blea said it seemed like Madrid didn’t want to be a part of it.

Testimony in the trial before Judge Jacqueline Flores continues today.