Episode 203 of Netflix and Crime+Investigation UK’s I Am a Killer looks at the murder of Christopher Chavez in Texas. Has murderer Leo Gordon Little changed?
Previously on Netflix and Crime+Investigation UK’s I Am a Killer, we saw how David Barnett’s troubled life led him down the path of murder. Episode 203 looks at the life and crimes of Leo Gordon Little III.
Along with an accomplice Jose Zavalas, Leo Little kidnapped and killed Antonio Christopher Chavez in San Antonio, Texas, in January of 1998. Little says he came from a middle-class family in San Antonio, with a mother in insurance and a bus driving dad. His former Assistant Principle tells I Am a Killer he was “a lost young boy.” An interesting question: Is he still “lost”?
Like many in prison, Leo Gordon Little suggests he’s found Jesus and changed his life around. He even became an ordained minister in prison.
Born in 1980, Little was a juvenile at the time of the crime. His parents were divorced, and he claims he was tormented in high school. However, he says he did fight back but still wound up in the wrong crowd.
He skipped school, got in trouble with the law here and there, and eventually moved to San Antonio with his dad. He indicates he joined a lower-level regional segment of Crips.
On one fateful night, Little and Zavalas decided to rob Chavez. They assumed Chavez was well-ff because he wore a suit. Little hid in the back of his unlocked vehicle.
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However, because Chavez didn’t have an ATM account, they ended up driving around. They stopped at a gas station, so there is surveillance footage of Chavez being accompanied by Little — which no doubt helped in establishing Little as a suspect.
Later, when they stopped the car in an isolated area, Little shot Chavez. Little maintains that he doesn’t know why he shot him. Whatever the reason, he arrested two days later after a witness came forward about Leo’s bragging.
Although Leo thinks he’s come full circle, Officer Thomas Matjeka, who is himself religious, has his doubts. After listening to Leo’s God-talk, Matjeka said “he’s full of crap,” adding that it’s all about his seeking parole (Little is eligible for parole in 2038).
It probably doesn’t help that Chavez was a Jehovah’s Witness and that Little and Zavalas robbed and killed the man for money from the collection plate. Notably, Chavez didn’t die instantly, either. He was airlifted to a hospital, meaning he needlessly suffered only to die two days later.
There is also no indication that Chavez put up a fight, and Leo didn’t seem emotionally phased by the threat of a death penalty conviction. Due to being juveniles, Little and Zavalas had their sentences reduced to life in prison.
I Am a Killer examines the pattern of Leo Gordon Little, who seemed to really want to be a gangster. Natasha Campos, a former friend, says that he wanted respect (people often confuse fear for that).
She still didn’t believe Leo’s story at first. Zavala himself says that Leo was quiet and that you have to watch the quiet ones. Like many criminals, Zavala says he got into drugs, car theft and burglary because “there was nothing else to do.”
He also says Leo bragged about the killing and admits that they did another robbery one week earlier. The man they robbed, Malachi Wurpts, says Leo threatened to kill him and that this crime also involved an ATM. Luckily, he was spared. He indicates that, had his life been different, he could have been in Leo’s place, and forgives him.
Is Becoming a Minister a Gimmick?
Can someone who engaged in gang behavior be reformed? Possibly in some cases. There’s no doubt that, if he were to be released, Leo Gordon Little would have a harder time getting away with crimes. He has a reputation. Surveillance footage shows that Chavez had a chance to fight back or to possibly escape, while in that gas station, but didn’t due to his pacifist leanings.
Little also addresses Officer Thomas Matjeka’s stance that the “born again” thing is a gimmick for parole. Little says he would have no problem admitting if he had wanted to kill someone and swears he doesn’t know why he did it.
Could he have lacked control at the time? In any case, he says he wants to clean up his the mess. However, he does admit to feeling that part of him thinks he deserves to be in prison.
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