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Press Release

Jesse Denver Hanes Sentenced to Life Imprisonment for Conviction on Federal Firearms and Carjacking Charges Arising Out of Shooting of Hatch Police Officer

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico
Prosecuted Pursued under Federal “Worst of the Worst” Anti-Violence Initiative

ALBUQUERQUE – U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge Terry Wade of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division and Chief James Gimler of the Hatch Police Department announced that Jesse Denver Hanes, who shot and killed Hatch Police Officer Jose Chavez on Aug. 12, 2016, was sentenced today to a lifetime of imprisonment for his conviction on federal firearms and carjacking charges arising out of his efforts to evade arrest following the shooting.  Hanes was also ordered to pay a total of $38,553.02 in restitution to the victims of his crimes.  Hanes, 40, of Columbus, Ohio, was sentenced this morning on his federal conviction by U.S. District Judge Robert C. Brack in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M.

Third Judicial District Attorney Mark D’Antonio, Chief Pete N. Kassetas of the New Mexico State Police, and Doña Ana County Sheriff Enrique Vigil joined U.S. Attorney Anderson, FBI Special Agent in Charge Wade and Hatch Police Chief Gimler in announcing the sentence.

“Today, the law enforcement community made good on its pledge to hold Jesse Denver Hanes fully accountable for his day-long violent crime spree that included the murder of Hatch Police Officer Jose Chavez and the carjacking of three victims, and broke the hearts of Officer Chavez’s family, the Hatch Police Department and the Village of Hatch,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office has made a commitment to the courageous officers who put their lives on the line to protect us and safeguard our communities – violence at any level against officers will not be tolerated.  We will pursue federal charges against those who seek to harm officers whenever we have jurisdiction and the evidence to do so.”

“We hope today’s sentencing gives Officer Jose Chavez’s loved ones some measure of justice,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Wade.  “His memory will inspire all of us in law enforcement to continue to do our jobs the way he did his, with dedication and perseverance.”

“I am grateful to all of the law enforcement officers, the prosecutors, and the community who worked so hard to bring Mr. Haynes to justice in this case.  The loss of Officer Chavez was a tragedy, but I am inspired by the way that our community came together to support him and his family,” said Chief Gimler of the Hatch Police Department.  “Knowing that Mr. Hanes will spend the rest of his life in prison cannot bring Officer Chavez back, but I hope that his family will find some solace in knowing that his killer will never again walk the streets a free man and that he will never again be able to take an innocent person’s life.”

Hanes was sentenced as the result of the guilty plea he entered on May 30, 2017, to a  five-count superseding indictment charging him 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.  Hanes admitted committing the five offenses 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 on federal charges on Aug. 16, 2016.  According to court filings, on Aug. 12, 2016, Officer Chavez executed a traffic stop in Hatch, N.M., on a vehicle driven by Hanes and in which two other men were passengers.  During the traffic stop, Hanes shot Officer Chavez in the upper torso, and Officer Chavez later died as the result of the gunshot wound.  After fleeing from the scene of the shooting, Hanes and his passengers parted company and Hanes traveled to a rest area near Radium Springs, N.M., where he attempted to carjack two individuals by brandishing a firearm at them.  Shortly thereafter, Hanes carjacked a man at the same rest area by shooting him in the leg and drove away in the injured man’s vehicle.  When deputies of the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office arrested Hanes later that day, they found the handgun Hanes used to shot Officer Chavez and the carjack victim.

Hanes was charged with and pled guilty to the first-degree murder of Officer Chavez and related crimes in the Third Judicial District Court for the State of New Mexico in Doña Ana County.  Hanes was sentenced to a term of life in prison without parole in the state murder case in Sept. 2017.  Under the terms of plea agreement entered into by Hanes and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hanes’ federal sentence of life imprisonment will run concurrent with his life sentence in the New Mexico state murder case.

“This case is a shining example of how law enforcement agencies can work together to protect the safety of the public,” said Doña Ana County District Attorney D’Antonio. “Not only was Mr. Hanes sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on his state charges, he will now serve the same sentence for his federal offenses.  I am grateful to our federal counterparts in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their diligent work and cooperation on this case.”

“The law enforcement community has felt the deep loss of one of our own in the death of Officer Jose Chavez,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Kassetas.  “However, the New Mexico State Police has worked diligently with our partners to bring justice in this case.  We are determined to honor the life of Officer Jose Chavez, and his service will never be forgotten.”

“Our department is pleased with the proceedings of today’s sentence,” said Dona Ana County Sheriff Vigil.  “Over the past 18 months, a family and a community have grieved the loss of a good man and a good police officer.  The impact of Mr. Hanes’s heinous actions will be felt forever, but today we move on.”

Hanes is still facing an unrelated state murder charge in Ohio, on which he has yet to be arraigned.  Criminal charges are merely accusations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The federal 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 law enforcement agencies assisted in the investigation:  the Albuquerque and El Paso offices of the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol, Las Cruces Police Department, the HIDTA Regional Interagency Drug Task Force/Metro Narcotics Task Force, El Paso (Texas) County Sheriff’s Office and El Paso (Texas) Police Department.  

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa A. Ong and Aaron O. Jordan of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office prosecuted the federal case against Hanes 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.

Updated March 1, 2018

Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime