Man accused in officer’s slaying rejects plea deal

Jesse Hanes is accused of shooting and killing Hatch Police Officer Jose Chavez. Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced the federal charges against Jesse Hanes in response to the shooting.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — An Ohio man accused in the 2016 slaying of a police officer in New Mexico has rejected a plea agreement, clearing the way for a trial later this year.

Jesse Denver Hanes appeared Wednesday in federal court in Las Cruces. He told the judge he couldn’t plead guilty to something he didn’t do.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the proposed agreement called for Hanes to plead guilty to 14 charges in pending cases out of New Mexico and Ohio.

The victims — Hatch Police Officer José Chavez and Theodore Timmons of Ross County, Ohio — were shot and killed just weeks apart last summer.

Had Hanes accepted the offer, prosecutors say he would have been spared a possible death sentence in Ohio. New Mexico does not have the death penalty.