- Associated Press - Saturday, April 29, 2017

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against two Buhl men charged with killing a high school student last year.

“After looking at all the factors … and all the things we had to prove, we did not believe we had a case where we could get it,” Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs told The Times-News (https://bit.ly/2qo1dmi) on Friday.

Gerardo Raul Chavez, 19, and Jose Daniel Alvarez, 20, pleaded not guilty in February to felony counts of murder and intimidating a witness.

The pair is accused of the May 7 drive-by shooting of Vason Lee Widaman, 15. Prosecutors say it involved a drug debt.

The deadline to seek the death penalty passed last week.

In order to seek capital punishment, prosecutors would have had to identify the shooter, Loebs said.

Witnesses testified that the shots came from the passenger side of the car, where Chavez was seated. But prosecutors haven’t said who fired the gun.

With the death penalty no longer a possibility, Chavez and Alvarez could both seek bond after being held without bond since their arrest. Bond was set at $5 million for Chavez. Alvarez has not sought bond.

Loebs asked for the $5 million bond in court on Friday for Chavez.

“We have a charge and an accusation that this man, for no reason other than a very small drug debt, tracked down and shot a young man to death in broad daylight with an accomplice,” Loebs said. “You can’t really get a whole lot worse than that, than tracking down and shooting a teenage juvenile to death for owing a few hundred dollars.”

Defense attorney Doug Nelson argued for a lower bond and said Chavez had family in the area and didn’t have a serious criminal record.

“He and his parents have paid me a lot of money to take this case and litigate this case,” Nelson said. “He’s got every incentive to do it, and I don’t see him going anywhere.”


Information from: The Times-News, https://www.magicvalley.com

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