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Man gets five years probation for accidental fatal shooting of best friend in Lynhaven home

Police at a sudden death investigation on E. Reed Avenue (staff photo by James Cullum)

A 20-year-old Alexandria man was sentenced to 10 years in prison, all of them suspended, and five years probation today after the unintentional shooting and killing of his best friend in Lynhaven earlier this year.

Junior Josue Espinal Calix pleaded guilty last month to involuntary manslaughter for the shooting death of  his best friend, 21-year-old Nabel Christopher Chavez. Alexandria Circuit Court Judge James C. Clark announced the sentence after a brief bench trial.

“I don’t think anybody questions the sincerity of your remorse or the sincerity of your intention to do better with your life,” Clark told Calix. “I think that it is impossible for the court to impose a sentence commensurate with the loss that Chris’ family has experienced and to a certain extent what you and your family have experienced.”

Calix admitted to killing Chavez in an interrogation video presented as evidence by his defense attorney, Sebastian Norton. In the video, Calix breaks down into sobs as he recounts the event in his home on E. Reed Avenue– drinking Jack Daniel’s whiskey, smoking marijuana and playing video games with Chavez. Then, as he did with regularity, Calix said, he took out his Polymer80 9mm pistol, which he thought was empty, pointed it at Chavez’s head and pulled the trigger.

Chavez died instantly and it was Calix who called 911.

Calix spent two weeks in jail after the shooting and was released on bond. He’s since been living substance-free, Norton said, and has gotten a job at a local pizzeria, where he works with the victim’s younger brother.

Calix apologized to the victim’s family and his family.

“I will never get another friend, another brother like him,” Calix told the court. “He was such a great person.”

Calix’s mother, Sonia, testified that her son and Chavez were like brothers.

“He’s changed a lot,” Sonia Caliz said. “He’s been working very hard and I haven’t had any problems since he got out (of jail).”

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Harsh Vorganti said that the shooting was unintentional, not accidental. Vorganti is part of the Commonwealth Attorney’s property crimes unit, and generally tries cases involving white collar offenses and reviewing financial records.

“The defendant may not have intended to kill Nabel, but he did do so,” Vorganti said. “It was not an accident that he pointed a gun at Nabel’s head. It was not an accident that he pulled the trigger.”

Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter, however, noted the “accidental” nature of the incident in a release last month.

“Nabel suffered one gunshot wound to the right side of his face and was pronounced dead on the scene,” Porter said. “Evidence confirmed the accidental nature of the shooting.”

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