Leo Santiago Chavez received two consecutive life sentences plus 10 years for the capital murder of his mother and father and abuse of their corpses. He was convicted of three counts of capital murder for the deaths of Adalberta Chavez Ruis and Ricardo Santiago Gonzalez as well as two counts of abuse of a corpse and theft of property on March 16, 2020.
During the sentencing hearing, which was held in late summer, District Attorney Pamela L. Casey asked for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole due to the nature and circumstance of the offense and the defendant’s role in planning and orchestrating the murder of his parents and hiding their bodies in a wooded area. Chavez was not eligible to receive the death penalty due to his age at the time of the offense. In Alabama, juveniles who commit capital murder may be sentenced to life with possibility of parole or life without the possibility of parole. A life sentence with possibility of parole requires at least 30 years in prison prior to parole consideration. Chavez would be required to serve 60 years before parole consideration.
Sentencing was delayed due to COVID-19. Several members of the family of Adalberta Chavez Ruis and Ricardo Santiago Gonzalez were present in the courtroom when the sentence was imposed. Just before the sentence was pronounced, Assistant District Attorney Scott Gilliland indicated that Chavez apologized to family members who were present in the courtroom and asked for their forgiveness. He then advised the court that he took his case to trial because the offers he received from the State were “too much.”
Casey said, “This family has been through a lot. They spent weeks walking through the woods and along roadways trying to locate their loved ones. They assisted with the investigation of this case and have been present for every hearing, including a week long trial, to show their love and support for the memory of Adalberta and Ricardo. It is very rewarding to work with such families to obtain justice for their lost loved ones.”
Casey said she was advised that some of the family members expressed disappointment that Chavez may get a chance to walk out of prison one day because he will be eligible for parole in the future. But, she continued, “they have continuously expressed their gratitude for the work of my office. I only wish they had the peace of mind to know he would never have the chance to leave prison.”
Chavez was also sentenced to 10 years each for theft of property and abuse of a corpse.