ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Timothy Chavez was just 15 years old when he shot and killed a homeless man and then bragged about it at a party. Wednesday, the now 21-year-old learned he’ll get out of his prison before his 20s are over.
Ronnie Ross was living on the streets of Albuquerque in 2018 when he was shot at least a dozen times and died. The two young shooters were 15-year-old Timothy Chavez and 17-year-old Anthony Gallegos. Chavez had just left a party at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near the Big-I when he shot Ross six times. He later returned with Gallegos who also opened fire on Ross before the two went back to the party and witnesses said bragged about the shooting.
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Those who knew Ross said he moved from Shiprock to Albuquerque in search of work but struggled with alcoholism. In court, the state read a statement from his sister. “Regardless of what Timothy Chavez and Anthony Gallegos thought, Ronnie was not just a homeless person that could be carelessly murdered.” The statement later continued, “He was always a loving friend, brother, uncle, and son. Ronnie loved his siblings, parents, and friends.”
He addressed the court Wednesday and apologized to Ross’s family for the pain he caused. “That night I was not in the right mind frame where I should have been. I was over my head and scared,” said Chavez.
His defense attorney argued there was nothing to support comments from investigators that Chavez committed the shooting “for fun.” Chavez pled guilty to first-degree murder two years ago and has been in juvenile jail since then. Now that he’s 21, he appeared for sentencing in adult court where Judge Courtney Weaks commended him for his good behavior while in custody and earning his high school diploma.
The judge sentenced Chavez to 13 years in prison with credit for the five years in prison he’s already served. That means Chavez will be out in eight years or earlier with good time. “Certainly if you were an adult at the time, you would be looking at a different sentence altogether,” said Judge Weaks.
First-degree murder usually carries a sentence of 30 years in prison but under Chavez’s plea agreement, he faced no more than 15 years. The other shooter, Anthony Gallegos, also pled guilty to first-degree murder. He has yet to be sentenced.