Federal Grand Jury Returns Indictment Charging Jesse Denver Hanes, Alleged Shooter of Hatch Police Officer, with Federal Firearms and Carjacking Offenses
Hanes Prosecuted under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative
ALBUQUERQUE – A federal grand jury sitting in Albuquerque, N.M., has returned an indictment charging Jesse Denver Hanes with federal firearms and carjacking offenses arising out of an Aug. 12, 2016, traffic stop in Hatch, N.M., during which Hanes allegedly shot and killed Hatch Police Officer Jose Chavez and Hanes’ efforts to evade arrest following the shooting. Hanes was arraigned on the indictment this morning in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., and entered a not guilty plea. Following the arraignment hearing, a U.S. Magistrate Judge ordered that Hanes be detained pending trial after finding that he poses a risk of flight and danger to the community.
The filing of the federal indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez and Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division. Joining them in making the announcement were Third Judicial District Attorney Mark D’Antonio, Chief James Gimler of the Hatch Police Department, Chief Pete N. Kassetas of the New Mexico State Police, and Doña Ana County Sheriff Enrique Vigil.
The five-count indictment, which was filed late yesterday afternoon, charges Hanes, 38, a resident of Columbus, Ohio, with attempted carjacking; brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence; carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury; discharging a firearm during a crime of violence; and being a felon in possession of a firearm. It alleges that Hanes committed these crimes on Aug. 12, 2016, in Doña Ana County, N.M. At the time, Hanes was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because of his status as a convicted felon.
Hanes was arrested Aug. 16, 2016, on a federal criminal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm, carjacking, and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. The criminal complaint alleged that, on Aug. 12, 2016, Officer Chavez executed a traffic stop in Hatch, N.M., on a Lexus driven by Hanes and in which two other men were passengers. During the traffic stop, Hanes allegedly shot Officer Chavez in the upper torso; Officer Chavez later died as a result of the gunshot wound.
The criminal complaint also alleged that after fleeing from the scene of the shooting in the Lexus, Hanes and his passengers parted company. Thereafter, Hanes stopped at a rest area near Radium Springs, N.M., where he allegedly shot a motorist, causing him to suffer serious bodily injury, and carjacked the motorist’s vehicle, a Chevrolet. When deputies of the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office arrested Hanes, they allegedly found a handgun, believed to be the firearm used to shoot Officer Chavez and the motorist, in the Chevrolet.
The indictment adds two new crimes not previously charged in the criminal complaint: an attempted carjacking charge and a new firearms offense. The new charges allege that Hanes used force and violence against two victims while attempting to carjack the victims’ vehicle and that Hanes brandished a firearm during the attempted carjacking.
In addition to the charges in the federal indictment, Hanes has been charged with the first-degree murder of Officer Chavez in a criminal complaint filed in the Third Judicial District Court for the State of New Mexico in Doña Ana County. The state’s murder investigation is continuing. Hanes also is facing an unrelated murder charge in Ohio.
If convicted of the crimes charged in the federal indictment, Hanes faces a statutory maximum penalty of ten years in prison for unlawfully possessing a firearm; 15 years on the attempted carjacking charge, and 25 years in prison on the carjacking charge. If convicted of brandishing a firearm during the attempted carjacking, Hanes faces a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of seven years in prison. He also faces a statutory mandatory minimum penalty of 25 years in prison if convicted of discharging a firearm during the carjacking. The 32 years must be served consecutive to any sentence imposed on the other charges. These potential penalties apply only to the federal charges and are beyond any penalties that may be imposed under state laws. Charges in indictments and criminal complaints are merely accusations, and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the FBI, Hatch Police Department, Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico State Police, with assistance from the 3rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office. The following agencies also assisted in the investigation: Albuquerque and El Paso offices of the FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol, Las Cruces Police Department, El Paso (Texas) County Sheriff’s Office and El Paso (Texas) Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron O. Jordan and Marisa A. Ong of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office are prosecuting the case as part of a federal anti-violence initiative that targets “the worst of the worst” offenders for federal prosecution. Under this initiative, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and federal law enforcement agencies work with New Mexico’s District Attorneys and state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to target violent or repeat offenders primarily based on their felony conviction records for federal prosecution with the goal of removing violent, repeat offenders from communities in New Mexico for as long as possible.