February 7, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Santa Fe, NM – Today, New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez and Senator Antonio “Moe” Maestas introduced the Tyler Lackey Memorial Bill.
The bill will amend New Mexico law to preclude a defendant charged with homicide from receiving a jury instruction for a lesser manslaughter charge if the defendant was “in the course of or during an escape from the commission of a felony offense, or while resisting a lawful arrest by a law enforcement officer or another person.”
In 2016, Matthew Chavez approached Tyler Lackey as he was collecting money from an ATM in Albuquerque. Chavez robbed Lackey at gunpoint and in the course of the incident murdered Lackey, a decorated Army Veteran. Chavez was convicted of second degree murder, plus lesser charges, and was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. Years after the conviction, the Court of Appeals overturned Chavez’s conviction, stating that he should have been able to present a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter for the jury to consider.
“I miss my son. The pain this process has caused me and my family makes it nearly impossible for us to try to heal from Tyler’s death,” said Elizabeth (Liz) Frank. “Tyler is being blamed for getting attacked and reasonably taking defensive action. I will do everything in my power to get this legislation passed, for my son, and for all others who may have to go through something like this in the future.”
“The tragic case of Tyler Lackey demonstrates why a legislative change is needed,” said Attorney General Raúl Torrez. “A defendant should not receive the benefit of a lesser sentence if he was the initial aggressor. I am proud to support this legislation carried by Senator Maestas to ensure that no one else has to endure what Liz Frank has experienced through the course of the Matthew Chavez case.” “The public would agree that a person who initiates a violent crime, which results in an upstanding citizen’s death, should not be entitled to a lesser included charge that allows for a significantly lower sentence. Unfortunately the Matthew Chavez case is a prime example of why this legislation is needed. This bill supports victims and holds offenders accountable,” stated Senator Moe Maestas.