A judge has set a March trial date for a Garden City man charged with first-degree murder in the fatal drive-by shooting of a Garden City teen.
Anthony Chavez, 21, appeared Tuesday in Finney County District Court, where he was arraigned on the murder charge, as well as five others. District Judge Ricklin Pierce scheduled his jury trial for March 11 through 20, 2019.
Anthony Chavez, along with brother and co-defendant Andres Chavez, is accused in the July 15 shooting death of 17-year-old Ramon Enriquez. The brothers also face charges of criminal discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle, three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and criminal possession of a weapon by a felon.
When Judge Pierce asked if Anthony Chavez wanted to enter a plea, defense attorney Ron Evans said his client wanted to stand mute, meaning he didn’t want to enter a plea. As is standard, Pierce then ordered not guilty pleas to be entered on each of the six counts.
A preliminary hearing for 20-year-old Andres Chavez is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Dec. 6.
Anthony Chavez was bound over for arraignment earlier this month after law enforcement officials and witnesses testified during his preliminary hearing.
At about 1:37 a.m. July 15, Finney County Sheriff’s investigators responded to a report of a shooting on the U.S. Highway 50 bypass between Third Street and Campus Drive, where it was reported that someone from a vehicle had fired shots at another vehicle while traveling east on the bypass.
Enriquez, who witnesses say was seated in the second row on the driver's side of the blue Chevy Yukon that authorities say was the target of the shooting, was shot and died later at St. Catherine Hospital.
Sheriff's investigator Jennifer Rogers testified during Anthony Chavez's preliminary hearing that he told her in an interview the day he was arrested hat he was the only person in the suspect vehicle and that he shot 11 times at the Yukon. She said she drove him to his home, 1410 B St., where he led her to a shed and a shoe box that contained a 40-caliber handgun and two boxes of ammunition.
Monica Esparza-Gonzalez, her boyfriend, Cristo Garcia, and her brother, Mario Esparza-Gonzalez — all friends of Enriquez — testified at the hearing that they were in the Yukon that night.
Mario Esparza-Gonzalez testified that the Chavez brothers were coming for him. He said the brothers had issues with him stemming from their belief that his sister had stolen marijuana from their friend, Austin Hernandez, and that Mario Esparza-Gonzalez had “shot up their homie’s crib,” for which he has denied any involvement.
On the night of July 14, Mario Esparza-Gonzalez said, he was at the Sunflower Motel when he received a phone call and recognized the voices on speaker phone as Andres and Anthony Chavez. He testified that the Chavez brothers threatened to kill him and his family.
According to testimony from the witnesses in the Yukon, Monica Esparza-Gonzalez and Garcia drove to the hotel and picked up Esparza-Gonzalez, with Enriquez also in the vehicle.
Mario Esparza-Gonzalez testified that the Chavez brothers called him, asked where he was and said they were on their way to his house.
On their way to Mario Esparza-Gonzalez’s residence in Ball Trailer Park, 2970 N. Anderson Road, the occupants in the Yukon noticed a white pickup following them closely. According to their testimony, after stopping briefly at the trailer park, they headed north toward the bypass, with the pickup still following.
Mario Esparza-Gonzalez testified that he recognized the vehicle as Andres Chavez’s work pickup and was able to identify him as the driver, but couldn't identify the other two subjects he saw in the pickup.
The witnesses all said that a high-speed chase ensued on the bypass as Monica Esparza-Gonzalez drove east in an attempt to get away from the pickup. The witnesses said that shots came from the pickup after it attempted to pull up beside the Yukon in the left lane but couldn’t catch up.
Monica Esparza-Gonzalez said when she realized Enriquez had been shot, she exited at Mary Street, drove to Third Street, turned left and headed toward St. Catherine Hospital. She said she saw a police car on Third Street and stopped and asked for help.
Officers and EMS personnel attempted life-saving measures on Enriquez in the 2000 block of North Third Street, before he was taken to the hospital.
Rogers also testified at the hearing that investigators seized mobile phones, a white pickup matching the description given by Monica and Mario Esparza-Gonzalez, a handgun and a gun cleaning kit from Anthony Chavez’s residence, as well as a black latex glove from the pickup. Investigators also found 9mm and 40-caliber shell casings at the scene of the shooting.
Video surveillance footage from Garden City Liquors, where Anthony Chavez told Rogers he had visited twice the day before the shooting, shows him wearing a black cap that matched one investigators found at the scene of the shooting, Rogers testified.
Authorities also seized the cell phone of Sabrina Figueroa, Andres Chavez’s girlfriend, who was with the Chavez brothers the night of July 14. A video taken that night on the phone that was played during the preliminary hearing shows the trio together, and Anthony Chavez is seen wearing a black cap like the one found at the scene of the shooting and black gloves, and he's holding 40-caliber bullets.
Jury selection in the trial of Anthony Chavez is scheduled to begin March 11 in the main courtroom at the Finney County Courthouse. Once the trial begins, the proceedings will be moved to the courtroom at the Law Enforcement Center.
Contact Brett Riggs at firstname.lastname@example.org.