District Attorney takes heat over trial decision

Posted at: 01/24/2013 6:26 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The Bernalillo County District Attorney was criticized on national television Saturday night for her decision to try a 15-year-old murder suspect as an adult.  Nehemiah Griego is accused of killing his parents and three siblings last weekend.

"Fundamentally there is one other problem in this case and that is (Nehemiah Griego) is being tried as an adult,” said an HLN panel member on the HLN show Dr. Drew On Call.  “They are willing to prosecute him as an adult and that takes him out of the juvenile system which is based on rehabilitation and puts him in system that is geared towards punishment."

HLN viewers phoned in expressing their disagreement with the move that District Attorney Kari Brandenburg’s office made.

“I want to address the issue of him being tried as an adult,” said a caller into the show.  “There are lots of reasons for behavior issues, but we don't treat a child as an adult in any other circumstance in our society and it’s bizarre to me that we want to lock up a 15-year-old with hardened criminals."

KOB Eyewitness News 4 took the concerns to Brandenburg who explained trying Griego as an adult is the best legal move for prosecutor and totally within New Mexico law. 

“Anyone charged with a first degree homicide who is 15, 16, or 17 can be tried as an adult,” Brandenburg said.  “What is important to know is that he won't be sentenced as an adult.  The judge will have more discretion to determine what is an appropriate sentence.”

Brandenburg argued is she doesn’t try Griego as an adult he would automatically be released from prison at the age of 21. 

“When five people have lost their lives we feel we need more jurisdiction than that. If nothing else we need to make sure he gets the supervision or help that he needs if he is in fact convicted,” Brandenburg said.