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Santa Fe New Mexican Newspaper Archive: January 20, 1996 - Page 3

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Publication: Santa Fe New Mexican

Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico

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   New Mexican (Newspaper) - January 20, 1996, Santa Fe, New Mexico                                Saturday January THI NIW MIXKJAN A3 Councilor state officials sought leniency for killer Julie New Mexican Arietta Chandlers mother Vlerna Corded weeps as she talks about her daughter who was murdered by Rod Hasson At right Is Frank Chandler Ariettas husband Continued from Page Al the killing was any worse than that of Gallegos or the other two Santa Fe men who were present when Chandler was raped beat en to death taken to a remote spot and left to die If it were in my power every one of you would be doing sub stantial Herrera told Has son All four of you should have faced the prospect of the death penalty You all should have had to have gone in front of a jury and had to fight for your Prosecutors initially sought the death penalty for Hasson and Gallegos who committed the crimes when they were New Mexico State University fresh men home on spring break Both men eventually entered into plea agreements Hasson 23 last year pleaded guilty to seconddegree murder kidnapping cocaine trafficking tampering with evidence and conspiracy to tamper with evi dence The two others involved in the slaying received much lighter sentences Cris Smyth who pleaded guilty to aggravated assault received a threeyear sentence The fourth man at the crime scene Keith Castellano is the person who led police to Chan dlers body in April Prosecutor Jim Yontz has said Castellano will plead guilty to a count of tampering with evidence Yontz has said the state will ask for a conditional discharge which means Castellanos record will be clean if he completes proba tion On Friday Herrera said Castellanos punishment was a slap on the hand Yontz defended the deal with Castellano saying it was neces sary to crack the case If not for the agreement with Mr Castellano this would still be a missingperson he said In regard to Smyths sentence Herrera said Once again the community is outraged You already had Castellanos state Smyth said he hit Chandler with a malt liquor bottle at Has sons urging but did nothing else to her Yontz said that having Smyths statements helped strengthen the case against the two men who police believe are most responsible Castellanos state ment alone might not have been enough to convince a jury Yontz said In an interview after the hear ing District Attorney Henry Valdez echoed Yontzs argu ments He said the varying lev els of prison time to which the four were exposed reflects each defendants culpability in the murder Valdez said having different sentences for different people involved in crimes is common pointing to the four men involved in the 1994 murder of Roy Dukeminier Those sen tences ranged from nine to 30 years He said he believed Castellano and Smyth told the truth because their statements told the same basic story that nearly all the violence was done by Hasson and Gallegos Valdez noted that Smyth who was in the Navy at the time of his arrest made his statement to a military lawyer while he was halfway around in the world in the Pacific on a Navy aircraft carrier They had no opportunity to he said Hasson who was majoring in criminal justice in college before his arrest spoke briefly LETTER Continued from Page Al tions Hasson made to state Dis trict Judge Steve Herrera in a 10page letter released Friday In the letter Hasson relates a version of events in which his part in the murder is far less than in the accounts related by two other men involved At Fridays sentencing hear ing prosecutor Jim Yontz called Hassons letter a pack of Defense attorney Gary Mitchell said it was a truthful account In the letter Hasson also revealed that only days after the 1992 murder Hasson told his father that he had seen his friend Jeff Gallegos rape Chan dler and that he participated in Chandlers beating and the hid ing of her body Santa Fe police did not crack the case and find Chandlers remains until April when Keith Castellano another man present at the killing led them to the site south of Lamy Mitchell said in court Friday that nobody could blame Rod Hasson Sr for not coming for ward I dont think anyone here would turn in their own he said Yontz referred to the Hasson family keeping a dirty little In his own letter to the judge Rod Hasson Sr said Rod inti mated to me regarding that trag ic night that he had the least amount of involvement and that basically the coverup was done totally to protect The younger Hasson suffered terrible nightmares after the killing Soon after the killing he told his thengirlfriend about it She suggested he pray to God and to Chandler for forgiveness I believe I was he wrote In a few weeks the dreams slowed down and I got more Court documents say Hasson later took sexual pho tographs of his girlfriend and when they broke up threatened to distribute them if she told anyone about Chandlers killing Several parts of Hassons description of events differ sharply from the accounts by others involved including those of Castellano and Cris Smyth Prosecutor Yontz has said that Gallegos has given a statement that is consistent with the other two Hasson says that Chandler already was sitting at the bar when he and his friends arrived I walked in and was passing by the bar when Mrs Chandler stuck her foot out and put it between my Hasson wrote She asked if I would like to buy her a However a female friend of Chandler who was at the bar said in a 1992 interview that the men already were at the bar when she and Chandler arrived Hasson said he never danced with Chandler Others have said he did According to Hassons letter Castellano and Smyth approached him about buying cocaine which the two said Chandler wanted and agreed to pay for Hasson said he did not know where to get the drug but we could go to the bad side of town and The four men and Chandler By STEVE TERRELL The New Mexican A Santa Fe city councilor a state legislator and a state corporation commissioner ail writing on official letterheads are among those who asked Judge Steve Herrera for leniency in sentencing convicted murderer Rod Hasson The letters of Councilor AmyManning Rep Luciano Lucky Varela and Corporation Commis sioner Jerome Block are included in a thick note book of letters to the judge from family members and friends of Hasson All three officials said in their respective letters that they are friends of Hassons father Rod Has son a longtime state employee In her letter Manning wrote Rod Jr is remorseful that the foolish and reckless alliance with certain persons he had just known for one evening and a careless following of his peers resulted in a devastating In his own letter to the judge Hasson wrote that he had met Keith Castellano and Cris Smyth the night of Chandlers murder Manning asked the judge to temper his decision on Hassons sentence with mercy Mannings relative Tom Manning athletics director of Santa Fe High School also wrote a let ter to Herrera calling Hasson one of the best stu dents and athletes he has ever known Tom Man ning said that while in high school Hasson became a protector of special education students I rec ognized that Rod Hasson did have a kind and gen tle he wrote In his letter Varela said he does not know the younger Hasson well but said he was impressed with his attitude toward other The state representative asked the judge to consider the history of this individual his family and his poten tial for Block praised the younger Hassons behavior his spirited attitude and gentlemanly Block said Hassons involvement in Chandlers rape beating death and mutilation was a careless nights association with friends and two other peo ple he did not know Another letter came from Hassons girlfriend Ocean Munds of Las Cruces who told Herrera a long sentence would be the ruin of one of societys She said she called Hasson my fragile An uncle of Hasson from New Orleans wrote If I had a son I would be proud if he turned out like and matteroffactly at Fridays hearing He apologized to Chan dlers family though he said he knew it would not bring back the victim Like Gallegos the week before Hasson said he takes full responsibility for his part in the murder But he said People think I had the power to change that night It was like an avalanche that got He said the cocaine and alco hol he took that night were not to blame though they did impair his judgment Several friends and relatives of Chandler spoke all asking for the maximum sentence many of them calling Hasson a mon Chandlers mother Vierna Cordell wept when she asked for the maximum sentence for Hasson She said she favored execution and was against Has sons plea bargain Ill have to face my maker knowing that in my heart I wanted to do to Has son what he did to my daugh she said Linda Jackson who was with Chandler at The Bull Ring the night she met Hasson and the others and who helped Chan dlers husband look for her later said a waitress at the bar told her that the young men had talked about gang banging her Barbara Goldman director of the Santa Fe Rape Crisis Center said Chandler did everything that her center recommends vic tims do to avoid being harmed including begging for mercy offering money and credit cards to let her go She told them her phone number and said they could have sex with her anytime they wanted just let her Goldman said left the bar They were able to buy cocaine from a man at Car los Rey Park Hasson wrote In Castellanos version the cocaine was bought at a southside home where Hasson led them Hasson says that after he and Gallegos snorted cocaine with Chandler he said that night was his and Gallegos first time taking the drug Chandler got out of the car At this point he wrote Gallegos told Smyth to hit Chandler with a malt liquor bot tle and we will get Hasson wrote that he assumed Gallegos was joking Smyth has said Hasson ordered him to hit Chandler with a bottle after Hasson decided the group should rape her How ever a police affidavit quoting Castellano said it was Gallegos who told Smyth to hit her Castellano also said the bottle incident occurred after the rape Hasson said that after Galle gos kneed Chandlers head and kicked her while she was on the ground Gallegos began to rape her Hasson contradicting other reports said he never raped or tried to rape Chandler Hasson said that Smyth and Castellano on their own began beating Chandler with rocks as Hasson and Gallegos were talk ing to each other In the other mens versions Smyth and Castellano only struck her once apiece which they said was due to Hassons threats Hasson admitted that he joined in the beating and helped hide the body though he said he did not realize he was near Lamy Sunday Champagne Brunch QRancho Encantado to per person 9823537 Expert Auto 2877 Trades West Roul ofTSiler Road 4387112 the paper tiger I O KOREAK CERAMICS 12th Century to 19th Century KORYO DYKASTY TO CHOSOW DYWASTY Celedon Vases Ewers Blue White Flasks Waterdroppers Punchong Bowls Cosmetic 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