Nearly two months after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, Esias Madrid was sentenced Thursday to life in prison in the June 2015 death of Manzano High School student Jaydon Chavez-Silver.
The 19-year-old Madrid is already serving a 16-year sentence in an unrelated fatal shooting, and Judge Jacqueline Flores ruled that the two sentences must be served consecutively.
In a brief statement to the court, Madrid maintained that he was not the person to blame for Chavez-Silver’s death.
“I apologize for the tragedy that happened, and that I wouldn’t wish this upon nobody,” he said. “But all in honesty, I’m not responsible for what happened in this case.”
Defense attorney Daniel Salazar, urging the judge to hand down a lower sentence, suggested that jurors convicted an innocent man. He pointed out that Madrid, who was 17 at the time of the drive-by, took responsibility for the December shooting, but always maintained his innocence in this case.
“Justice for Jaydon doesn’t mean maxing out the wrong person,” Salazar said.
Madrid was one of three people convicted in the drive-by shooting, but the only one convicted of murder. Prosecutors said that Madrid and Nicholas Gonzales fired into the kitchen window of a home on Nakomis NE, intending to hit a man who had beaten up Dominic Conyers weeks before. Instead, the bullets hit Chavez-Silver – a popular athlete who was at the home that night.
Gonzales agreed to testify as a state’s witness in exchange for a juvenile sentence. Conyers, who prosecutors said was present during the shooting, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and shooting at a dwelling.
Confusion over jury instructions led Flores to declare a mistrial on three lesser counts that Madrid faced, but prosecutor Penny Gilbert said the state is not planning to retry Madrid, pointing out that the leftover charges would carry a juvenile sentence.
That decision means that Thursday’s hearing all but brings the tumultuous case to a close.
From the beginning, the case was packed full of complications: a 911 dispatcher hung up on a teen seeking help as Chavez-Silver lay dying, two people spent months in jail on murder charges only to see their cases dismissed, witness statements were recanted, detectives were accused of coercion, civil lawsuits were filed and a state legislator resigned.
“It’s been such a long, hard, winding road, and it felt like we were never going to get here,” Chavez-Silver’s mother, Nicole Chavez-Lucero, said after the sentencing.
Family and friends came to the hearing armed with posters covered with snapshots of Chavez-Silver. They begged Flores for the maximum sentence.
“Esias has shown no remorse or empathy for his actions,” said Joe Lucero, Chavez-Silver’s stepfather. “In fact, in the time after Jaydon’s murder (and before) his arrest, he took another young man’s life. It is unfortunate that the wheels of justice were not swift enough to save Esias’ second victim.”