Murder trial postponed 4 times, victim’s family frustrated

MORIARTY, N.M. (KRQE) – Years after a gruesome murder, the victim’s family is still waiting for justice. Investigators claim they have their man, so what’s the hold up?

KRQE News 13 first reported about Tammie Cessna’s murder back in January of 2014. Her accused killer, Mark Chavez, was arrested, let go, then arrested again.

Then on Monday, his murder trial was postponed for a fourth time.

Cessna was a 47-year-old mother of three when investigators said she was brutally murdered by Chavez in Moriarty. Her body was found days later inside her minivan.

Cessna’s sister Wendy told KRQE News 13 two years ago, “I know my sister’s not gonna matter as much to anybody else as she does to me, but she was a good person you know, and we don’t have her anymore.”

Now as Cessna’s family approaches the three year mark since her death, they’re still waiting for justice.

“We have to keep living this, we get our tickets, we get our hopes up, you know we feel like something’s going to happen and then we’re kicked down every time,” Wendy Cessna said on Tuesday.

Chavez was most recently scheduled for a jury trial next month. Then Monday, a Torrance County judge granted another continuance, the fourth time in a year his murder trial will be postponed.

“Every break that a criminal can get he’s gotten,” Wendy said. “He’s not getting any more. I will never let this rest.”

Chavez lived and worked as a maintenance man at the Super 8 where Cessna’s van was found in 2014.

After his initial arrest for murder, charges against Chavez were dropped and he was let free.

He was later re-arrested and charged again with her murder once blood and DNA evidence came back from the crime lab.

“I have not even taken a moment to think what will happen if he’s found not guilty. It’s that concrete,” Wendy said.

While Cessna’s family waits for what’s next in court, Chavez sits in prison awaiting another trial for allegedly kidnapping and torturing a woman in Albuquerque ten years ago.

Wendy Cessna said,”I’m gonna be able to breathe again, breathe easier when he’s convicted.”

Chavez changed attorney’s for his murder trial back in January. KRQE News 13 spoke with his defense attorney over the phone Tuesday. She wouldn’t comment on the case, but did confirm that she asked the judge for more time to finish interviewing the 84 people on the witness list for trial.

Chavez’s new trial date for Cessna’s murder will likely be sometime in January of 2017. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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