Judge sentences Hunsaker

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Burnet Bulletin

A man who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the slaying of a Marble Falls High School graduate has been sentenced to 18 ½ years in prison for his role in the crime.

Albert Gene Hunsaker II had pleaded guilty last month in a Taos County, New Mexico, court to help him avoid a conviction on a first-degree murder charge as prosecutors agreed to drop capital murder charges against him in exchange for his acceptance of lesser charges.

Hunsaker was accused of helping another man, Clayton Vincent Jones, kill Marble Falls High School graduate Naomi Ruth Chaney on Jan. 30, 2016, in Two Peaks near Taos.

He confessed to helping Jones wrap a winch wire around Chaney's neck and dragging her behind a vehicle. Hunsaker and Chaney then disposed of her body in sagebrush in a ditch near the Petaca River.

According to the sentence handed down by District Judge Sarah Backus after she accepted his plea deal, Hunsaker was sentenced to 15 years in the New Mexico Department of Corrections on the conspiracy charge and 18 months on the tampering with evidence charge.

Because Hunsaker was found to have a prior conviction in April 2012 conviction in Wisconsin for felony bail jumping, he was subject to sentencing as a habitual offender under Section 31-18-17 of the New Mexico Statutes Annotated 1978, which adds a mandatory one-year imprisonment to each charge. The sentences are to run consecutively and are to be followed by a two-year period of parole.

Hunsaker was also ordered to submit a DNA sample to the state, pay $75 to the Crime Victims Reparation Fund for his felony conviction and pay $105 in fees. In exchange for his plea, deputy district attorney Ron Olsen dismissed first-degree murder charges against Hunsaker.

The death penalty was abolished in New Mexico in 2009, so Hunsaker could have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole if found guilty of first-degree murder.

Hunsaker was interviewed by New Mexico police last May and told investigators he had been having a sexual relationship with Chaney despite being married to another woman. He said Jones and Chaney picked him up at his home to go for a ride.

According to statements given by Hunsaker, the trio had been drinking on a ridge near the Petaca River when Jones assaulted Chaney. He then put a wench wire around Chaney’s neck, had Hunsaker turn on the wench and then drove through the desert, dragging the woman to death. Hunsaker claims Jones threatened to kill his family if he refused to help him kill Chaney.

The two men dumped her body along the river in some brush and left. After being arrested by police, Hunsaker tried to lead them to Chaney’s body, but they were unable to locate it.

Chaney's remains have not been located, even after an extensive search of the crime scene and its surrounding area. Because of this, Hunsaker was charged with tampering with evidence.

Chaney served in the U.S. Marine Corps after she graduated from Marble Falls High School in 1998, earning an honorable discharge.

Jones pleaded guilty last year to killing another woman, 39-year-old Shalon Gheen, in Slab City, California, on April 29, 2016, during an argument, and to two counts of assault with a weapon for shooting at two people who tried to come to her aid.

He was sentenced Dec. 8, 2016, to an aggregate term of 37 years to life in prison, which included 25 years to life for killing Gheen, an extra 10 years for the use of a firearm to commit the crime and then an extra year each for the assault charges. Jones has not yet faced charges in New Mexico for his role in the killing of Chaney.

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