The state of New Mexico refers to me as Mario Chavez, inmate 65079. In August of 2004 the state charged me with first degree murder, armed robbery and several counts of tampering with evidence.

In 2006 a jury found me guilty of all charges and the honorable Richard Knowles sentenced me to life plus 25 years.

Here’s the problem: I didn’t kill anyone. I was denied my constitutional rights to a fair trial – denied my right to confront my accuser in court.

Visit here to read all my case evidence and legal documents to see the true facts of my case.

I know that it’s difficult to accept what I’m saying. Our life experiences shape us, and some of you will struggle to accept that a man could be sentenced to life-plus-twenty-five for a crime he didn’t commit. It’s so much easier to think that things like this don’t really happen.

Or, if they do happen, that they’re as rare as other freak accidents like shark attacks or lightening strikes. To accept that law enforcement officers could collude with a corrupt politician to send an innocent man to prison is problematic because it’s self-condemning. And the most probable thought after hearing or reading this declaration is that it must be fake, I must be lying.

The safe conclusion is that if I was accused, charged, and convicted then I must be guilty. Period. End of story.

But there are those of you who also know that the circumstances as they are painted are not always what they seem. And the judgements and conclusions we arrive at are often swayed by the preconceived notions we harbor.

The reason that I’m even writing or talking about this isn’t just because the state’s judicial system is systematically denying me justice, it’s because I’m not the only one. 

Wrongful convictions by most estimates are at 4 percent. And with about a million felony convictions in the U.S. each year, that means that for the last 16 years of me being wrongfully incarcerated 640,000 men and women have likewise been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to prison. And less than one-half of one percent get exonerated each year.

The causes of this are valid. Wrongful convictions are caused by perjury, lack of evidence proving innocence, a mistaken eyewitness, a violation of constitutional rights, systemic racism, overcharged emotions due to media witch hunts, or just a general lack of integrity in the criminal justice system.

In my specific case I have the added of having the brother of the man I am accused of killing being a very influential and high-ranking U.S Marshall and bureaucrat, Richard T. Taylor, who is tireless in his two-pronged pursuit of (a) making my incarceration as difficult as possible, and, (b) exerting his influence to see to it that the facts and legality of my conviction are not reviewed impartially. Something that the law entitles me to as a matter of course.

There are those of you who will read and be reminded that once upon a time you knew a Mario Chavez, you knew me. Maybe you knew me as a teenager, a relative, a boyfriend, a husband, a friend, a student, a business partner or associate, or maybe even as a lover or enemy. And based on these experiences you can’t see me as anything other than the ambitious, unwavering, self-righteous and self centered prick that I was. Someone who deserves whatever misery or misfortune befalls him. 

Perfect. Fine. I agree. If I owe you or someone you care about an apology, then consider that I am likewise fighting for the opportunity to do just that.

But consider this, nobody has ever accused me of being a saint. I am simply a man with my faults and idiosyncrasies, doing my best to let my love-light shine in the circumstances where I find myself.

Life has changed me, just as it changes all of us. It has the tendency to knock the wind out of us, sometimes more than once and more than we’d like. and as we sit their in the dirt, surrounded by the debris from our failed enterprises, we’re afforded an opportunity to self-evaluate not only who we are, but who we aim to be. And I can honestly say that I am a fan of my failures. Because there is nothing like failure to teach us who we are, and likewise show us glimpses of who we could be.

The simple truth is, you don’t need to believe in me in order to believe in the facts. I didn’t invent the law, but it exists nonetheless. And based  on those two things my indictment, the investigation that followed, my trial and conviction all equate to a sham and outright mockery of justice/
Nobody needs to believe me in order to believe in this.

There are those of you who know better than I that not everything that’s said by the police, the government, or a less-than-reputable politician like Kari Brandenburg is true. The very people who serve as representatives in our government are often dissolute, ambitious, and self-serving. Their very livelihoods often depend on it.

That having been said, if the system is unfair it’s only because we have collectively permitted it to be so. There’s the rub, as they say. We live in a world where power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

But we also live in a world where voices can come together and make a difference; where being diverse and determined make the tragedies that we endure worth it, for the simple fact that in spite of the storms of circumstances and calamities that have washed over our lives, we’re still standing.

Let us not be discouraged by the temporary state of affairs, rather, let us be encouraged because change is possible and love ultimately prevails.

Some of you may be thinking, rightly so, that even if a politician , or detective, or judge did something to violate my constitutional rights and thereby negate the legality of the tribunal order that condemns me, they weren’t the ones who found me guilty. It was a jury who found me guilty.

And for a jury to have found me guilty means that there must have been evidence suggesting as much. Otherwise, the outcome wouldn’t have been what it was. What it is.

I agree. It was a jury who found me guilty. But permit me to ask you this, have you ever been convinced of something that wasn’t true? 

We all have. I don’t fault the twelve men and women who came forward to serve our community in my trial for having gotten it wrong. They are not to blame. Because first and foremost there is a presumption of guilt involved in the whole criminal trial proceedings . 

Although we would like to believe that a defendant is considered innocent by the jury who judges him,  this is just not so. Once an accusation has morphed into an “investigation,” which later materializes into a trial, is it not human nature to suspect deep down that the defendant probably did or had something to do with whatever he’s accused of?


The average law-abiding citizen will believe that law enforcement people have diligently investigated the case and surely would not bring someone to trial for any other reason or motive than the bona fide evidence that exists against that person.

What is often overlooked is that the very police, prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys who are charged with upholding the integrity of the criminal justice system are often jaded by the very experience that makes them qualified to do so.

So where does this leave us? Who is left to safeguard the honor and decency of the very system that determines whether we live or die, or for that matter whether we are locked away for the rest of our days?

The criminal justice system failed in my case primarily because of the influences exerted. The victim, Mr. Garland Taylor  was not only a respected man in the community, his brother was and continues to be a high-ranking federal officer. And for three days following the murder there were no suspects.

I can’t even begin to imagine what Mr. Taylor’s family went through, the sadness and frustration they must have felt, nor the amount of pressure that must have been felt by the local authorities to produce a suspect.

Let justice be done! was no doubt the war cry of their hearts.

What nobody could have known at that point was that while the authorities were scrambling for a suspect, I was seated in the passenger seat of a pickup truck driving aimlessly through Texas while trying to convince the man and friend who I had known for more than a decade to turn himself in. And I succeeded. Or, at least, that was what I thought.

When Eloy and I returned to Albuquerque with our stated intention of going to the authorities together, it was after midnight. We were both emotionally and physically drained, and when he told me that he needed to spend one last night with his pregnant wife before turning himself in, I agreed.

I desperately wanted to believe something that absolutely was not the case. I wanted to believe that despite his betrayal, that despite him having schemed with my enemies (ex-business partners) to coerce me into giving them money, that despite him having lured both me and Mr. Taylor to that house under false pretenses, that despite him having confessed that he had slept with my fiancé, that despite all the other betrayals that he himself had confessed to, that somehow the friendship was still there somewhere beneath all the treachery.

But that was not the case.

In the hours that proceeded our agreement to go to the authorities, Eloy and his wife Dawn hatched a plan to save themselves at my expense. A reward had been offered by New Mexico Crime-stoppers, and that very night a call was made by someone close to Eloy and Dawn. And within minutes the authorities had their suspects.

When the authorities arrested Eloy Montano he already knew what he was going to do. After all, what was one more betrayal?

It was apparent from the beginning that the police were committing the very same mistakes as me. Eloy was making their jobs easy. The problems, however, the cracks in the foundation of their case began to appear as the investigation developed. It wasn’t long before the authorities realized that Eloy was lying to protect himself.

Which brings us to the first crux: if the authorities, after having realized that a grave error had been made in believing Eloy, had decided to change course in their investigation, it’s likely that they would not have been able to convict anyone for the Mr. Taylor’s death.

Something important that the traditional media never reported on was that there was not one shred of physical evidence to show that I or, anyone else, had killed Mr. Taylor. The jury’s verdict that cancelled my life was not based on DNA, fingerprints, or eyewitness accounts. Rather, it was based on the declaration of their first suspect, Eloy Michael Montano, who accused me to save himself. A man who I was never permitted to confront as my accuser at trial.

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is crystal clear in declaring that I have the right to confront and cross-examine my accessor. It’s a right so fundamental that it pre-dates the Constitution to the times of common-law.

The predicament of the state’s case against me was that it’s star witness had proven to be so deceptive in his declarations that to put him on the stand was to essentially assure an acquittal. Plus, since the state had used Eloy’s own declarations to indict him, how then was the politician-prosecutor supposed to stand before the jury and sell him as a reliable witness?

Which brings us to the second crux: for an elected district attorney, someone who had already removed the qualified A.D.A. who had been assigned to the case so as to prosecute it herself, to potentially lose a case of this magnitude due to plain ineptitude-something that would have come to light immediately had she lost-would have meant the end to an already troubled career.

And, in all fairness, the dilemma that Kari Brandenburg faced as the elected official charged with adhering to the Constitution as she prosecuted me for a crime that I did not commit should not have existed.

The system should not permit that a murder victim’s brother, in this case a presidential appointed federal agent and bureaucrat, to be in a position to demand justice with such impetus that the constitutional rights of the accused are essentially trampled so as to achieve that end.

Kari Brandenburg may have sworn an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution, but at the end of the day power corrupts and when it came down to choosing between her position and livelihood and that of my own, the outcome was inevitable.

I had hoped that the issues of my innocence  and the illegality of my conviction would be resolved through the judicial channels of the appellate process here in New Mexico.

But something happened in early 2019 while seated before the honorable Jacqueline Flores in an evidentiary hearing. John McCall, my lawyer at the time, returned to the defense table from the bench conference and suddenly informed me that I was not going to receive justice on my case due to “external influences.”

What are you talking about? What external influences? I said.

McCall signaled to none other than Richard T. Taylor, U.S. Marshall assigned by President Trump, who was seated behind A.D.A. Treich.

To say the least, I was incensed but not surprised. After all, I had been on the receiving end of U.S. Marshall Taylor’s Wrath for the last 15 years at that point. And months later, when the honorable Flores issued her opinion, John McCall’s words were confirmed as prophetic.

And what did the judge have to say about the constitutional confrontation violation? Not one word.

I can’t change what has happened to me. Whether or not justice prevails in my case is irrelevant to the bigger issue at hand here. Because what has happened to me is going to happen to someone else. It already has. And if the experience, and the voice that comes forth from that experience is able to lay the groundwork to the change that must take place to see to it that this doesn’t happen to another, then it has not been for nothing.

This experience, MyLifeplus25, has made me into an activist from within these walls. Anyone who has ever lost a loved one to a disease, or some sort of governmental injustice will understand me when I say, that the pain of that experience shapes us.

It forever alters who we are. It makes us see things that we couldn’t have seen or understood before. Which is why people need to be aware of my situation.

Not because it’s me or because I’m more important than you or someone else, because I’m not. You need to be aware because injustice is chimerical, and whether the form it assumes is a knee to the back of someone’s neck for nine minutes, or being deported from the only country that this person has ever known because their parents brought them here as a child, illegally, nothing will change until we ourselves change.

Which is exactly what happens when we are confronted with, and made aware of, an injustice. It forever changes us. Maybe not enough to make us change our vote, or volunteer, or sign that petition, or write that check, but awareness brings us that much closer to whatever action we will someday take.

Everyday I am confronted with the reality of my situation. Steel bars. Concrete Walls. Human misery so palpable that it infiltrates your every pore. Some of you will understand exactly what my reality entails. Others will try to imagine. Others still, will will try to discredit it as a farce. And that, my friends, is where the abstract collides with the ideal, where every farce becomes critical and anything critical is a farce.

The mysterious sweet-spot where every contract and its opposite are equally true.

With all my heart I hope there’s some larger truth or purpose behind suffering, though in my cynicism I sometimes feel that the only truths that matter to me are the ones I don’t, and can’t understand.

It’s enigmatic, ambiguous, inexplicable, like trying to gasp the more intricate concepts of quantum theory, or love. But at the very least, it leads us to a question. The question.What makes a life?

Much more than what we say or do, life is defined by what we love, and what we believe in. For me, what I love and believe in most is this connection of possibility that we all share. At any given moment people can come together and turn dreams into reality, and that inspires me to get out of bed every morning and stand up on the cold concrete and confront my day.

Here I am, I say, I’m still alive! I’m not dead yet!I know that I am confronted with a very sad truth: overturning a wrongful conviction is difficult. For one, because innocence or guilt is irrelevant when seeking redress in appellate courts.

After the fact, the appellate courts have only one function, and that is to correct prejudicial legal mistakes made by a judge at a lower level. If the jury erred by believing a lying witness, or by drawing a misleading inference, there is nothing to appeal. Commonly, the wrongfully-convicted are rubber-stamped into oblivion throughout the appeals process, both at the state and federal level.

All of this is the cold concrete that I walk on, and the cold food that I eat everyday. I know that my situation can seem disheartening at times. But I also know that this reality (problem) that I am living is so much bigger than me and my life. 

MyLifeplus25 is what has happened. It can’t unhappen. It can change but it can’t unhappen. My dreams and aspirations will forever be shaped by this experience, this injustice. And that’s how it should be. Because activism is the outcome of oppression and tyranny, and what it really is, is love taking form.

And my voice is that form, that action.

If my voice means that I die in this cage because appellate judges dig in their heels, so as to save the careers and reputations of their colleagues from years past, so be it. Because at the of the day my voice will spark a change and ignite a fire that will save other lives by the tens, hundreds, or even thousands.

And if that happens, if the next appellate court chooses to ignore the constitutional infirmity of my conviction, ignoring their oath to the Constitution, then let them do so while the whole world is watching.

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