- Associated Press - Thursday, February 16, 2017

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Prosecutors are considering seeking the death penalty against two Buhl men accused of killing a high school student last year.

Gerardo Raul Chavez, 19, and Jose Daniel Alvarez, 20, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to felony counts of murder and intimidating a witness, The Times-News reported (https://bit.ly/2ktOOP8 ). The pair is accused of the May 7 drive-by shooting of 15-year-old Vason Lee Widaman.

“I’ve been giving (the death penalty) thought since the crime first occurred,” prosecutor Grant Loebs said. “But I have not been seriously considering all of the factors.”

Loebs has 60 days to decide whether or not he will seek capital punishment for the two men but said he’s hoping to make a decision before that deadline.

“We look at the crime, look at the defendants as much as we can, look if there are any aggravating circumstances surrounding the crime,” Loebs said of what goes into his decision. “We also look at what mitigating factors might be used in favor of the defendant in a sentencing context.”

The suspects are next due in court on March 27, making that the earliest date at which Loebs could announce his decision.

During Wednesday’s hearing, attorneys said a trial for the men will likely begin July 11. They each face up to life in prison for the charges against them if Loebs does not seek the death penalty.

Both men are being held without bond but Chavez informed the court this week that he would seek a bond hearing.


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

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