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Accomplice in deadly drive-by gets 1-year sentence

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One of three people accused in a drive-by shooting that left popular Manzano High School athlete Jaydon Chavez-Silver dead was sentenced Thursday to one year in custody.

Nicholas Gonzales

Nicholas Gonzales

Nicholas Gonzales pleaded guilty in July to charges of shooting at an occupied dwelling, resulting in great bodily harm, and conspiracy to commit shooting at a dwelling.

Gonzales, 17, wore an orange CYFD jumpsuit as he read a hand-written letter to the court, blaming his foolishness and selfishness for Chavez-Silver’s death and apologizing to his family and friends.

“Because of my actions, an innocent life has been taken away. A life I did not know, a life that did not grow to its full potential,” he said. “And for that, I am very sorry.”

Chavez-Silver, 17, was killed in June 2015, and police said that Gonzales was driving the car from which the shots were fired, and also fired shots himself.

Nicholas Gonzales, center, appears in District Court during his sentencing hearing Thursday

Nicholas Gonzales, center, appears in District Court during his sentencing hearing Thursday. Gonzales pleaded guilty in July to crimes connected to the death of Jaydon Chavez-Silver. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

The bullet that hit Chavez-Silver in the neck, police said, was intended for someone else. It is not clear who fired that shot. The shooters were targeting someone who lived in the home on Nakomis NE, where Chavez-Silver was hanging out with a group of friends, police said.

Gonzales’ plea agreement with the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office specified that he would be sentenced as a juvenile to one year in the custody of the Children, Youth and Families Department, prosecutor Penny Gilbert said. He also promised to testify truthfully against other defendants in the case.Also charged in Chavez-Silver’s death are Dominic Conyers, 20, and Esias Madrid, 19. Both men are facing first-degree murder and several more charges. Conyers is scheduled to go to trial in May and Madrid in September.

DA’s Office spokesman Adolfo Mendez II said Gonzales’ plea in the case was “necessary to build a stronger case against the other defendants.”

Nicholas Gonzales speaks with his attorney Kari Morrissey before his sentencing hearing in state district court on Thursday

Nicholas Gonzales speaks with his attorney Kari Morrissey before his sentencing hearing in state district court on Thursday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Chavez-Silver had just been accepted into the Air Force Academy. The courtroom was full of his friends and relatives, and many wiped their eyes as they watched a slideshow of images of Chavez-Silver, many showing him posing with his younger sister or decked out in football gear.

Speakers at the hearing, many armed with large posters filled with images of Chavez-Silver, told Judge Christina Jaramillo about a charismatic and charming teen whose promising life was cut short.

His mother, Nicole Chavez-Lucero, told Gonzales that she hoped during his “short time” in custody he would concentrate on getting an education and on building life skills so that he would avoid becoming “another statistic, another repeat offender on our streets.”

“I want Jaydon’s life and death,” she said, “to mean something more.”

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