LAS CRUCES, N.M. – An Ohio man pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder in the shooting death of a police officer during a traffic stop last year in New Mexico.
Jesse Denver Hanes of Columbus entered the plea in state district court in Las Cruces after reaching an agreement with prosecutors in which six other charges were dismissed.
The plea came a day after Hanes agreed to also plead guilty to federal firearms and carjacking charges involving events that followed the Aug. 12, 2016, shooting of Hatch policeman Jose Chavez.
In both cases, Hanes could face life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced later this year.
"Today is a very satisfying day, but also an extremely sad day of remembering a fallen officer," District Attorney Mark D'Antonio said in a statement issued after the plea hearing.
D'Antonio said the agreement amounts to justice because of the potential sentence and the pain it will spare the Chavez family.
Chavez was a two-year veteran of the Hatch police force and a father of two children.
Chavez pulled over a vehicle in the farming village of Hatch that was carrying Hanes and two other people.
Authorities have said Hanes fired at Chavez and then fled, driving south on Interstate 25 to a rest stop where he was accused of taking another car after shooting and injuring the driver.
Dona Ana County deputies took Hanes into custody after he crashed on a state highway.
Hanes was wanted in a deadly shooting in Chillicothe, Ohio, at the time of his arrest in New Mexico. The Ohio charges are pending.