‘People can change:’ Man charged in baby’s murder spent years in prison before claiming to turn life around

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The 23-year-old man arrested for the murder of an 11-month old girl recently celebrated the birth of his baby girl last month and the suspect with a criminal past was working to turn his life around, an investigation has revealed.

Chavez Ocasio was arrested late Monday and formally charged Tuesday morning with murder, tampering with physical evidence, and criminal possession of a weapon.

Monday, Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner said, “I would hope that no human being were to fire into a vehicle, specifically targeting young children. I would hope that someone even capable of violent crime would have a line that they’re not willing to cross.”

Ocascio should be able to relate to what losing a baby could feel like. According to social media posts, he and his girlfriend welcomed a girl in March.

An article posted on Onondaga Community College’s website in November, but removed Tuesday, touts Ocasio’s “second chance at life,” as a student formerly incarcerated but now an honor student.

Interviewed for the article, Ocasio said, “Just because you have a bad moment, that’s not who you are. People can change. Real people elevate. If makes you stronger when you can get caught up in a bad situation and get out.”

Ocasio was talking about his criminal past, having spent four years in state prison for burglary in from 2015 to 2019. In 2014, at the age of 17, he was accused of shooting a 13-year-old in the head and faced serious charges that were dropped.

A review of Ocasio’s Facebook page shows photos with his one-month-old daughter and posts about the journey he shared with his girlfriend from pregnancy to parenthood.

Ocasio posted to Facebook regularly since 2019. His first post on September 26, 2019 reads “first day home,” in an apparent reference to being released from prison. State corrections lists his prison release date as September 26, 2019.

The suspect is back in a cell at the Onondaga County Justice Center, with no bail amount set.

Court documents state that a car registered to Ocascio was the origin of bullets fired in the direction of a passing car with three girls in the back seat.

Four-year-old and eight-year-old sisters, also in the back seat, were hit but are expected to recover. The sisters’ mom, who was driving, and the baby’s mom were not injured in the front seat.

Investigators have not said if Ocasio pulled the trigger or was in his vehicle at the time and haven’t said if more suspects are wanted.

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