By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
A Clovis teenager pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Wednesday and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in connection with the shooting death last year of an acquaintance.
Adam Crespin, 19, killed Lavon Harris with a shotgun in the early morning hours of March 3, 2004, at the Clovis Apartments, according to court documents. Harris had recently moved to Clovis from Fort Worth, Texas.
After reviewing letters from the victim’s family and the plea agreement signed by the defendant, District Judge Joe Parker accepted the agreement and handed down the maximum sentence for second-degree murder under New Mexico law.
“They had become mere acquaintances over the few days to weeks prior to the shooting,” District Attorney Matthew Chandler said of the relationship between Crespin and Harris. “From interviewing the witnesses and from reports, we had the indication they had a small verbal altercation days prior, but that was it.”
The defense offered no witnesses during Wednesday’s hearing.
According to a press release from the district attorney’s office, Harris was seen knocking on several doors at the Clovis Apartments looking for Crespin. When Crespin opened his door, the two began arguing and Crespin shot Harris in the lower abdomen, an incident report showed.
A day later, Clovis police arrested Crespin.
Prior to this incident, Crespin no violent criminal history, Chandler said.
A grand jury indicted Crespin on first-degree murder and retaliation against a witness. The murder charge was reduced through the plea agreement and the retaliation charge was dropped.
Chandler said the prosecution team reviewed the reports from law enforcement, interviewed several of the witnesses, spoke with the detective and with the victim’s family in reviewing the charges.
“We all came to the agreement that the premeditation element was not present in this case, however that the defendant should have known that his act would create the strong possibility of death,” which was the key element for a second-degree murder charge, Chandler said.
According to court documents, Crespin would have faced a maximum of 39 years in jail and a $25,000 fine if he had gone to trial on the original charge of first-degree murder.
Prosecutors received several letters from Harris’ family, Chandler said, which were given to Parker to consider during the sentencing phase. None of Harris’ family members were present at Wednesday’s hearing, Chandler said.
Crespin’s attorney could not be reached Wednesday for comment.