GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - A 63-year-old Metairie man was sentenced to 50 years in prison for molesting a 5-year-old girl who lived near his apartment building. A Jefferson Parish judge sentenced Mario Chavez on Thursday, April 21 after his conviction last week on sexual battery involving a victim under the age of 13,
The Jefferson Parish District Attorney's office says the victim was a Honduran immigrant who needed an interpreter to understand court proceedings. In court, prosecutors alleged he lured the child into the bedroom of his Rye Street apartment on June 20, 2014.
Chavez could have received up to 99 years in prison. Judge Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court, who presided over the case sentenced him to 50 years, with at least half of that without the possibility of probation, parole or suspended sentence. The judge also denied a defense request for a new trial.
Additionally, Chavez will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life if released from prison.
The DA's office says Chavez molested the little girl, then told her to say nothing. However, she reportedly went home and told her mother, triggering an investigation that led to Chavez's arrest that day.
DNA evidence obtained from a partial public hair and skin cells confirmed the child's accusations, according to trial testimony.
The child told authorities she knew Chavez as "Mario," from seeing him outside her apartment while she playing, according to evidence presented during the trial. The victim and her family did not attend Thursday's sentencing hearing to offer impact testimony.
Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Angad Ghai prosecuted the case.