Farmington teen sentenced for fatally shooting Elijah Chavez in December

Teen defendant will serve time at juvenile facility

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • Xavion Montano of Farmington was 15-years-old when he was arrested on Dec. 15 for involuntary manslaughter and negligent use of a deadly weapon.
  • Montano was convicted by a jury of both counts during a three-day trial on Aug. 17 through 19 at Farmington District Court along Andrea Drive.
  • A Dec. 18 search warrant affidavit provides new insight into the incident.

FARMINGTON — A Farmington teen will serve two years in a juvenile detention facility for fatally shooting 16-year-old Elijah Chavez with a rifle in December. The gun discharged while a group of teens was inside a vehicle.

Chavez died in his bed at home, and it was then that the gunshot wound was discovered.

Law enforcement investigating the case heard multiple versions of the incident from teens who provided inconstant details in police reports.

Xavion Montano of Farmington was 15-years-old when he was arrested on Dec. 15, 2019 for involuntary manslaughter and negligent use of a deadly weapon.

Sam Chavez, Elijah's father, declined to comment on the sentencing. Chavez and Yvonne Delao were Elijah Chavez's parents.

Montano was convicted by a jury of both counts during a three-day trial on Aug. 17 through 19 at Farmington District Court on Andrea Drive. It was the first jury trial held in county district courts since a hold was placed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Montano was sentenced to no more than two years by District Court Judge Sarah Weaver on Sept. 1. He will serve his sentence at a juvenile facility designated by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Family Department.

Tyson Quail, Montano's attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.

Elijah Chavez

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dustin O'Brien of the San Juan County District Attorney's Office told The Daily Times the jury made the right decision.

He added it can be a frustrating situation for the victim's family as the loss of life only carries a maximum sentence of two years.

The Farmington Police Department, which conducted the investigation, released very little information publicly on the investigation into Chavez's death.

A Dec. 16 Farmington police press release stated Montano was arrested on Dec. 15. It did not identify Chavez, the location of the incident or the circumstances of the shooting.

A Dec. 18 search warrant affidavit provides some insight into the incident.

The affidavit states Farmington police were dispatched around 12:58 p.m. on Dec. 14 to the 4700 block of Atlantic Street on reports of an unattended death.

Elijah was on the floor of a bedroom after his family tried to perform CPR.

A gunshot wound was found in the lower right portion of his torso.

Blood was found in two beds in the residence and on the lower part of a toilet.

Elijah's father Sam told police how he was contacted around 4:30 a.m. that day, stating Elijah was intoxicated and needed to be picked up.

Sam drove to the 4800 block of Kingsway Drive and found this son sitting in his Mitsubishi passenger car. He picked his son up out of the Mitsubishi and placed him in his vehicle then drove home.

Elijah Chavez was initially in his father's bed but later got up, vomited and went to sleep in his own bed. Sam Chavez asked Elijah's brother to watch him around 12:30 p.m. as he had to leave to help a friend.

The brother texted Sam Chavez shortly after, stating Elijah did not look well and did not appear to be breathing.

The father told police he noticed a scratch or red mark on his son's back after police arrived at his residence, according to police reports.

There is an interview in the search warrant affidavit with a male teen who told police he was inside the vehicle when Montano shot Chavez.

Previous coverage:Teen arrested in death investigation, few details released

He told investigators Chavez was in the driver's seat and he and Montano were passengers.

Montano had an AR-15 rifle in a blue duffel bag and showed it to them, according to court documents.

The teen said he passed out and was woken up by a gunshot and learned Montano had shot Chavez. The victim pulled up his shirt and the teen said could see a mark on the victim's back. He told police that he told Montano to call an ambulance and 911 but Montano got upset and said no, according to court documents.

Montano later admitted during an interview with law enforcement to shooting Elijah Chavez and claimed it was an accidental discharge, according to court documents.

Montano's interview contradicted part of the teen boy's interview, which was included in the search warrant affidavit, according to police reports. Montano told investigators that the teen boy was awake and had handed him the rifle before it went off and shot Elijah.

The review of police reports also revealed more inconsistencies in the stories from teens involved in the incident.

An officer noted at one point that a male teen who was interviewed appeared to be covering for Montano.

Another juvenile male interviewed told police the bullets got too hot from the car heater and went off, striking Elijah.

The officer ended the interview, noting he didn't want to listen to "outlandish stories" from the juvenile.

A teen girl in the vehicle initially claimed she didn't know Elijah was shot but later admitted she knew about the shooting.

O'Brien said the district attorney's office did not charge any of the teen witnesses in connection to the case.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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