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Chavez takes plea deal in death of Mitchell Russell


A Las Cruces man accused of killing another in 2021 accepted a plea deal to avert a trial at the eleventh hour.

David Chavez, 20, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated battery and one count of tampering with evidence. He had previously been charged with voluntary manslaughter after police said he killed 30-year-old Mitchell Russell on Jan. 6, 2022.

Third Judicial District Judge Douglas Driggers sentenced Chavez to just under two years in prison. Driggers also granted Chavez “time served” since Chavez has been in jail since January 2022. According to the plea agreement, Chavez will remain in the Doña Ana County Detention Center until August 2024. Chavez will also serve four years of probation and two years of parole.

Chavez pleaded guilty on Jan. 12 to allegations that he killed Russell after Russell chased him from the Walmart near Lohman Avenue to Lees Drive near Young Park. Police said a Walmart employee told Russell that Chavez burglarized a car in the Walmart parking lot. Chavez shot Russell at the outset of fight, police said.

The case initially mired in questionable court proceedings after Driggers declared a mistrial and suggested a Las Cruces police detective misled the court about two knives found near Russell’s body. It was later revealed that one knife belonged to an LCPD officer and was used to cut open the victim’s shirt. The second belonged to Russell but was not used in the altercation.

David Chavez, pleaded guilty