PHOENIX, AZ (November 21, 2012) – Mario Chavez-Tavena (D.O.B. 3/23/86) will spend the rest of his life in prison for repeatedly raping and committing other sexual acts with his 10-year-old stepdaughter. Chavez-Tavena was convicted last July on five counts of Sexual Conduct with a Minor and one count of Molestation of a Child, all of which are classified as Dangerous Crimes against Children carrying a mandatory life sentence. The Honorable Sherry K. Stephens today sentenced Chavez-Tavena to five consecutive life sentences plus an additional ten years.
“This is an appropriately severe sentence for an especially brutal series of offenses that robbed a young child of her innocence,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “As a civilized society, we simply cannot tolerate those who harm the most vulnerable among us by violating the sacred trust a child places in a parent,” he added.
In May 2009, Chavez-Tavena’s wife of four years placed an audio recorder in their bedroom in an effort to determine if her husband was cheating on her. She later listened to the recording and heard Chavez-Tavena call her 10-year-old daughter into the bedroom followed by noises she believed were Chavez-Tavena having sex with the child. When his wife confronted him with the recording, Chavez-Tavena denied that he had sex with his stepdaughter. When she left to report the incident to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Chavez-Tavena fled and was subsequently apprehended.
A forensic examination of Chavez-Tavena’s daughter produced DNA evidence and disclosures supporting the sexual conduct charges. Investigators also discovered that the victim was sexually molested by her 16-year-old half-brother, Joel Smith, who pled guilty to separate charges and was sentenced to a year in jail and lifetime supervised probation. Smith was shot and killed in September 2012 after threatening a Sheriff’s deputy with a weapon.