SANTA FE — Legislation introduced Tuesday aims to address what supporters say is a loophole in New Mexico law that led to the overturning of a murder conviction.
The proposal, Senate Bill 363, would prevent a murder defendant from seeking a jury instruction that would allow for consideration of a lesser charge of manslaughter if the killing happened as the defendant resisted a lawful arrest or tried to escape after committing a felony.
It comes after the Court of Appeals overturned the 2018 conviction of Matthew Chavez — who was accused of killing Army veteran Tyler Lackey during an ATM robbery in Albuquerque.
Lackey — who had a concealed-carry permit and drew a handgun — tried to defend himself during the incident, authorities say, but was shot by Chavez. The court ruled that the jury should have had the option of considering a voluntary manslaughter charge to reflect Chavez’s claim that he fired in self defense.
In a news conference Tuesday, Attorney General Raúl Torrez and state Sen. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said no defendant should be able to claim “imperfect self defense” and avoid a murder conviction in a case like Chavez’s.
“We need to address what I believe to be a profound miscarriage of justice in Bernalillo County,” Torrez said.
The bill will be too late for Lackey’s family. The defendant will be retried with a jury instruction on manslaughter, Torrez said.