Facial tattoos aren't exactly the kind of ink that's easy to cover with a piece of clothing -- not if you want to see where you're going, anyhow. And this proved to be a problem for Nehemiah Chavez, whose Playboy bunny tat -- designating his alleged membership in a Greeley gang called the Playboyz -- led to his capture and subsequent sentencing to 128 years for a double-shooting last year. And other crimes could make that jolt even longer.
According to the Greeley Tribune, Chavez was released from a nine-year prison stay on December 14, 2010 -- and one week later, he's thought to have robbed a Key Bank in Greeley of just under $3,000.
That was only the beginning, authorities believe. Over the next two-and-a-half months or so, a robber police believe was Chavez knocked over another ten businesses in the area; the man typically wore a hooded sweatshirt and carried a black handgun, held sideways. His targets ranged from a Sav-O-Mat that netted the scofflaw $378 to an Everyday outlet whose clerk gave the weapon wielder $13 from his pocket when he couldn't get the cash register open. The total profit from these heists was estimated at just north of $8,600.
A busy schedule -- but Chavez was accused of committing an even more serious offense in March. According to the Weld County District Attorney's Office, he followed a man and a woman to a house on the 500 block of 37th Avenue in Greeley before firing several shots at the porch and a nearby vehicle that just happened to contain a young child. Bullets reportedly struck the couple in the legs but missed a third man and the youngster.
Days later, Chavez was captured, with the Weld County DA noting that the Playboy bunny tattoo on his mug was a big help in identifying him.
In February, Chavez was found guilty of two attempted murder counts, plus one attempted-manslaughter count. Such convictions wouldn't normally add up to the 128 years to which he's now been sentenced, but Weld County DA spokesman Heath Montgomery says his three previous felony convictions served as sentence enhancers.
Montgomery adds that this stretch doesn't include the robbery spree -- meaning that it's conceivable his time behind bars could edge closer to two centuries.
By then, his bunny tattoo will probably look pretty mangy. Here's a larger look at Chavez's booking photo.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Gang violence by the numbers: Murders up, aggravated assaults down."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.