FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2018
Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216
Aztec, NM– Today, Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that the New Mexico Supreme Court agreed with the Office of the Attorney General Criminal Appeals Division and denied the appeal of Shanah Chadwick-McNally in her first-degree murder case for the bludgeoning death and robbery of an Aztec man. The State charged the defendant with an open count of first-degree murder and alleged two aggravating circumstances: (1) that defendant committed the murder with the intent to kill in the commission of or attempt to commit kidnapping and (2) that defendant committed the murder for the purpose of preventing the victim from testifying about the crime. If proven, either one of these aggravating circumstances would result in a life sentence without the possibility of release or parole (LWOP).
“I am pleased that the District Attorney may move forward with this case and seek life without parole for the accused if she is found guilty of first-degree murder,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas.
The defendant appealed before trial claiming that she was entitled to the heightened procedural protections that apply when the State seeks the death penalty. The Supreme Court held that the defendant is not entitled to a pretrial hearing on the aggravating circumstances because the death penalty is not implicated. For the same reason, the defendant is not entitled to present evidence of mitigating circumstances for sentencing purposes.
The life without parole sentence was established in 2009 when New Mexico abolished the death penalty. Assistant Attorney General Victoria Wilson handled the appeals on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.
Please see attached for the opinion and a photo of Chadwick-McNally.
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