By QCS staff
A jury found an Albuquerque man, Steven Chavez, guilty on Wednesday of vehicular homicide under the influence of intoxicating liquors in connection with the death of James Callison, 34, of Tucumcari, according to a press release from the state’s attorney office.
The two-day trial was held in U.S. District Court in Tucumcari.
Chavez, 31 at the time of the accident, could face up to 10 years in prison, said Len Walker, senior trial prosectuor with the Office of the District Attorney.
Callison was killed about 9:25 p.m.on June 9, 2002, on State Road 209, north of the Quay and Curry county line, Walker said.
Walker said, “The horrible and tragic thing is that the victim, Callison, was just walking down the road …”
A witness from Albuquerque, Amy Lopez, who was with Chavez earlier in the day testified she had tried to get him to give her his keys when he dropped her off at her parents’ house in Clovis, Walker said.
Another witness, Cleo Helkar, testifed he had also tried to prevent Chavez from driving, Walker said.
Prosecutors said Chavez, now 34, lost control of the vehcile primarily due to the influence of alcohol. “The vehicle’s speed was estimated to have been at between 83 and 89 miles per hour when it left the pavement in a yaw, or sideways position,” the release said.
Chavez’ blood alochol level was estimated to be at .16 percent at the time of the vehicle rollover, the release said. A person is presumed under the influence at .08 percent, according to New Mexico law.
Walker said Jeff Vick, an expert witness in accident reconstruction, testified that from the time the car left the payment it went through several violent rollovers and came to a rest several hundred feet from the road.
It took the case four years to come to trial because there were delays in obtaining DNA test results and there had been five different attorneys for the defense, Walker said.