The man accused of the 2016 attempted robbery and murder a US Army veteran in New Mexico is now embroiled in a heated trial, facing charges including first-degree murder, armed robbery, conspiracy, tampering with evidence and arson.
Matthew Chavez and his attorneys claim he was exercising self-defense when he shot and killed Army veteran Tyler Lackey outside of an ATM in Albuquerque
According to Prosecutor Nick McDonnell, Chavez pulled up to the ATM in a stolen car, complete bandanna tied over his face. Approaching Lackey from behind, McDonnell said. Lackey drew a concealed pistol -that he was licensed to carry- and aimed it at Chavez.
A gunfight ensued, with Lackey being killed in the shootout.
One witness -who knew Lackey- said he attempted to help the fallen veteran and that Chavez instigated the encounter by posing as a threat. During the moments leading up to the shootout, the witness deployed a knife to help defend Lackey.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that Chavez’s ex-girlfriend, Veronica Trimble, will be testifying as well, but will not face any charges.
Defense lawyer Daniel Snyder claims that Chavez acted in self defense in what was a joke gone wrong.
“Mr. Chavez and Veronica they’re pleading with Mr. Lackey to let them go. ‘We’re just playing. It was a joke. We’re just playing. Let us go,’ ” Snyder said. “They’re trying to de-escalate and get out of there. Mr. Chavez didn’t use force at the ATM, and he didn’t use force until his life depended on it.”
Lackey, however, was shot repeatedly from a stolen Pontiac driven by Chavez, a car later found abandoned and set aflame. Evading police, Chavez was eventually detained in Oklahoma after a massive manhunt.
“Someone who is defending themselves, do they flee from the scene?” McDonnell asked the courtroom. “Do they avoid cops? Do they torch the car, which is stolen, and then flee to Ardmore, Oklahoma?”
Lackey was killed shortly after returning to Albuquerque to study at Central New Mexico Community College after spending more than five years in the Army as a paratrooper medic.
The case is expected to continue until around Wednesday.
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