Prosecutors have declined to file charges against a man who shot and killed a 17-year-old boy during a September marijuana burglary at an Adams County home, saying that they cannot disprove the shooter was acting in self defense.
Levi Sisneros, 33, was initially arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in the Sept. 1 shooting near the intersection of 76th Avenue and Pecos Street. Alfredo Chavez died after being shot in the back.
“As the case proceeded and we were able to investigate the scene and discover some things, we came to the conclusion that there is not a likelihood of proving this beyond a reasonable doubt,” Adams County District Attorney Dave Young said Monday.
The decision not to file charges in the shooting was first reported last month by KCNC-Channel 4.
Young said investigators learned Alfredo was in a group of three or four people who broke into Sisnero’s home to steal marijuana that was being legally grown there. Sisneros awoke when he heard noises and saw the burglars leaving his garage, at which point he followed them into the home’s enclosed backyard, according to Young.
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“He yells at them. One of the individuals throws something at him,” Young said. “He fires a shot and it hit Alfredo in the back.”
Young says the decision not to charge Sisneros came after a crime scene investigation and interviews with Sisneros and the other alleged burglars, who face charges in the break in. Those involved in the encounter gave consistent accounts of what happened leading up to the shooting, Young said.
Those factors, Young says, “would make it very difficult if not impossible to disprove self defense in this case.”
Alfredo’s mother, Priscilla Hernandez, says she feels Sisneros should face charges in the case and that her son never broke into the home and was actually standing as a lookout in the driveway.
“He got dragged into a situation that he didn’t know what the consequences were,” Hernandez told The Denver Post on Monday. “He paid the ultimate price. I understand the make ‘Make my Day’ law, but he never once went into the house.”
Hernandez said her son, who was family-oriented and loved sports, was dragged along with other teens and that he “was not even the perpetrator.” She questioned why a Denver man is facing charges in a similar case in which he shot and killed a 15-year-old boy and wounded a 14-year-old boy who were apparently trying to steal marijuana from his backyard.
In that case, Keith Hammock is accused of firing at the boys on Oct. 9 from a second-floor window in his home. Hammock was formally charged with first-degree murder.
“I don’t agree with what my son did,” Hernandez said. “I 100 percent do not agree with it. But for him to die over marijuana? There’s no justice being done. It sickens me. I can’t go on with my life.”
Hernandez said she has hired lawyers to pursue a civil case against Sisneros.
“We totally disagree with the DA’s decision,” her attorney, Todd Bovo, said. “I think this is going to be a concern for the public because what’s more important — our marijuana or our children? This kid did not need to die.”
Efforts to reach Sisneros on Monday were unsuccessful.
Young says there are major differences in the Denver case and Alfredo’s death, including that Sisneros appeared to have reason to fear for his life and that the alleged burglars actually entered his home.
“I completely appreciate their frustrations and I understand where they are coming from,” Young said of Alfredo’s family. “… If something new comes up, we will certainly take another look at it.”