The Justice Files: Mother says her son is ‘a survivor’

Justice Files
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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Even after two decades, Christina Chavez is fearful of retaliation.

In 1997, Arthur Sanchez was shot and killed at Fairmont Park in Salt Lake City. Chavez’ son, Carlos, was also shot, but the 15-year old managed to survive.

Christopher Tolton, the shooter, and his accomplice Davey Williams were arrested, convicted, and sent to prison. Tolton is now up for parole.

Chavez can’t get over the thought of Tolton being released.

“(I’m) hurt more than anything,” she said. “It’s like a slap on the face, are you kidding me?”

Back then, Chavez said her son was a member of the East High School ROTC program and had plans to join the military. But the shot to the head altered those plans.

“He tried to go forward,” said Chavez. “They wouldn’t let him graduate because he spent so much time in the hospital. I spent years of my life with my son at counseling, reconstructive surgery. We’ve been through a lot.”

At Tolton’s recent parole hearing, he said he was a changed man and became religious. He also apologized for murdering Sanchez and had words for Carlos.

“I’d tell him I’m sorry,” said Tolton. He didn’t deserve that. He was a really good kid. He hung out with us.”

Carlos’ mother said the apology is meaningless and was only an effort to get out of prison. She said there were numerous times he could have apologized but never did.

Chavez said that night in 1997 was a simple robbery and not a drug deal gone bad as reported.

She claimed Sanchez recently came across money from an insurance claim and Tolton was aware of it and made plans to steal it.

She said her son didn’t know Tolton and Williams. Chavez claimed her son was there because Sanchez, who was his friend, had agreed to meet the two men.

Looking back, she’s amazed he survived.

“The Lord said for some reason ‘you are to go forward with life,’ and he is doing great right now,” Chavez said. “(He’s) doing really good. He’s a survivor.”

Chavez said she can forgive, but never forget what he’s done. She’s against his release. She said he’s a violent man and has not learned his lesson.

The Utah Board of Pardons is still reviewing his case to determine if he should be paroled.

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