New Mexico Supreme Court Upholds Multi-Murder Conviction of 2009 Alamogordo Cold Case Murders

The New Mexico Supreme Court, this week, upheld the conviction of the 2009 murders, of Maximiliano Griego and Griego's girlfriend Mary Hudson Gutierrez in Alamogordo went cold until 2019.

In 2019 based upon a confession in another case, a break in the cold case occured, and suspect, Arizona Boys gang leader, Robert Chavez was charged and convicted on two counts of first-degree murder in a case that was tried in Alamogordo in a courtroom overseen by local Judge Angie K. Schneider, 12th Judicial District Judge.

An appeal of that case was heard in the New Mexico Supreme Court and the Supreme Court "affirmed Defendant’s first-degree murder convictions."

The details of the case and the appeal are explained in the Supreme Court documents of the appeal.

The case stemmed as a result of of drug trafficking and territory dispute from 2009 and was carried out with the help of Chavez's brother Joe Chavez and in the presence of his nephew Joey Chavez. The conviction did not occur until 2019.

The appeal was filed based upon the defendant Robert Chavez's belief that he deserved a reversal of his convictions on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of the murders based on uncorroborated accomplice testimony; that the district court erred when it admitted testimony of a police deputy recounting the contents of a witness’s statement under Rule 11-803(1) NMRA, the “present sense impression” exception to the rule against hearsay; and that the district court erred when it admitted segments of Defendant’s recorded jail telephone calls.

The case itself was held based on incidents of 2009 and became a cold case.

Per the appeals documents, in 2009, Maximiliano Griego (Victim Griego) and his girlfriend, Mary Hudson Gutierrez (Victim Gutierrez), were fatally shot in their Alamogordo home. Approximately ten years later, in 2019, Defendant was indicted for the murders after Defendant’s nephew, Joey Chavez, came forward with information about the case. Joey agreed to testify truthfully in this case in exchange for a shorter sentence in a separate felony matter.

Court documents continue, At the time of the murders, Defendant lived in Arizona with Joey, then fifteen, and headed a drug-trafficking organization with his brother, Joe Chavez, who resided in Alamogordo. In 2009, Defendant rented a vehicle in Arizona and drove to Alamogordo with Joey and two associates. Joey testified that, once they arrived in Alamogordo, Defendant and his brother discussed their plan to kidnap and kill Victim Griego because he had been “making threats” and had fired shots at a family member’s house. Defendant and his brother made a plan to ask one of their female customers to lure Victim Griego to her house. At Defendant’s instruction, Joey and one of Defendant’s associates bought long, thick, plastic zip ties to bind Victim Griego during the kidnapping.

Later that day, Defendant’s brother asked Melisa Eveleth—an Alamogordo woman who bought methamphetamine from Defendant and his brother at the time—to get in touch with Victim Griego because he wanted to talk to him about “steppin’ on his toes” by selling meth to his customers. Melisa testified that at the direction of Defendant’s brother, she contacted Victim Griego and asked him to bring $800 worth of meth to her house, without mentioning that Defendant or his brother were involved.

Before Victim Griego arrived at Melisa’s house, Defendant’s brother, Defendant, and one of Defendant’s associates arrived at Melisa’s house. Joey testified that he waited in a vehicle outside of Melisa’s house for about an hour before Defendant emerged from the house. Meanwhile, Defendant’s brother and the associate stayed at Melisa’s house, waiting for Victim Griego to arrive. Later, Victim Griego arrived and Melisa went with him to a back room in the house to smoke meth. Victim Griego had not seen the other men in the house yet because they were hiding in another room. As Victim Griego was about to start smoking, Melisa turned around and saw two men standing behind her with guns. Melisa heard the men say the names “Bob” (Defendant’s nickname) and “Mighty Mouse” (Defendant’s associate’s nickname) before she ducked and ran out of the house through the back door. Running away, Melisa heard screaming coming from the back room and saw silhouettes of fighting in the window of the room where she had left Victim Griego.

Later that evening, Defendant’s brother called Melisa, laughing, and said that he “had [Victim Griego],” and warned her that there may be some blood at her house even though they had “cleaned up.” Defendant also called Defendant’s brother to let him know that they (Defendant and the two associates) had kidnapped Victim Griego and asked Defendant’s brother to let them into a family member’s vacant house. When Defendant’s brother and Joey arrived at the vacant house, Joey saw Defendant and the two associates pull a black t-shirt off Victim Griego’s head. Joey observed that the zip ties he had bought earlier bound Victim Griego’s hands and that he had “bruises on his face and a couple of scrapes on the top of his head.” Joey saw one of the associates hit Victim Griego on the head with a wooden stick and he witnessed Defendant taunt Victim Griego, asking him with a smirk, whose town is this?

While these events were underway, Victim Gutierrez texted Victim Griego asking him where he was because he had not responded to several earlier text messages. She also called and texted a friend to ask if he knew where Victim Griego was. Then, at Defendant’s direction, Victim Griego called Victim Gutierrez and asked her to leave the back door of her house open because he was coming home. Joey testified that Defendant directed his brother and his two associates to take Victim Griego to Victim Gutierrez’s house and to kill them both.

Joey testified that Defendant’s brother and the two associates drove Victim Griego to Victim Gutierrez’s house while he stayed behind with Defendant. At Victim Gutierrez’s house, Alexandra Estrada (Alex), Victim Gutierrez’s fifteen-year-old daughter, was asleep. Alex woke up to the sound of two gunshots. She found both Victims Griego and Gutierrez lying unresponsive in her mother’s bedroom. She ran out to the living room and saw two men in dark clothes get into the passenger side of a vehicle, with someone else in the driver’s seat. Alex called 911 and then gave her statement to Deputy Luis Herrera after the police arrived on scene.

When Defendant’s brother and two associates returned to the house where Defendant and Joey were waiting, Victim Griego was not with them. They discussed what had happened at Victim Gutierrez’s house. Joey heard one of Defendant’s associates say that he had shot both Victims Griego and Gutierrez. Defendant, his two associates, and Joey traveled back to Arizona in the rental vehicle. The next day, Melisa returned to her house in Alamogordo, where she found blood splattered in the kitchen and the back bedroom where she had left Victim Griego the day before.

The case went cold until Joey Chavez came forward in 2019. After a three-day trial in 2022, the jury convicted Defendant of the two counts of first-degree murder and the district court sentenced him to two consecutive life sentences.

Some of the most damning evidence was a phone call by Robert Chavez. The transcript of the call was heard in the courtroom of Judge Angie K. Schneider. The counsel for Robert Chavez argued before the Supreme Court that the district court erred when it admitted phone calls. made from jail, days before the commencement of trial. Over defense counsel’s objections, the district court admitted portions of a jail call in which Robert Chavez appeared to discuss his case and Joey Chavez’s involvement in it. In reference to Joey Chaves, Robert Chavez stated:

You’re a rat, you’re a rat, you know? . . . I don’t make the rules, you know? If you wanna rat, that shit’s gonna be on paper. When the paper goes around, snitches get stitches. [laughs] But you know . . . I mean, I, I don’t have nothin’ to do with it. His name’s already out there that he’s a snitch. I don’t have nothin’, that’s outta my hands. What happens to him after that . . . he did that to himself. Nobody told him to fuckin’ start tryin’ to, if he’d kept his mouth shut we’d have all been ok.

The Supreme Court wrote in a unanimous opinion "the district court did not abuse its discretion in making either of the evidentiary rulings challenged by Defendant."

The New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed the Chavez sentenced of two consecutive life sentences for the killings. He is also serving 26 years for drug trafficking plus a 21 year sentence for an unrelated murder of Richard Valdez, who he killed and placed his body put in his car and set on fire in 2011.

The Arizona Boys gang was suspected of meth trafficking, murder, money laundering, arson and attempted bribery of law enforcement in a number of cases.

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