A preliminary hearing has been set for 9 a.m. Friday to determine whether a Tucumcari teenager charged with killing two family members at their home early last week will be bound over for trial, the Quay County Sun reported.
Tony Day, 14, was charged Tuesday with two open counts of murder in the deaths of his adoptive mother and her adopted daughter at their home about 2 miles west of Tucumcari, the Sun said.
State Police reported that they found the bodies of Sherry Folts, 49, and her mother Sue Day, 67, and took Tony Day to State Police headquarters where he allegedly admitted shooting Sue Day and stabbing Folts, the paper reported.
A detention hearing scheduled for Thursday to decide whether Day would remain held in the juvenile section of Quay County Detention Center or released to the care of family or a state agency was waived by his attorney Jeffrey Buckels, who heads the New Mexico Public Defender Capital Crimes Unit, the Sun said.
12/2/12 — ‘This Community’s Hurting’
By Deborah Ziff/Journal Staff Writer
FOR THE RECORD: This story incorrectly described the relationship between Sue Day and Sherry Folts due to erroneous information given to the newspaper. Sherry Folts is the adopted daughter of Sue Day.
TUCUMCARI — The doublewide mobile home sits along a long, flat country highway surrounded by dusty fields.
A plastic tricycle with red wheels is parked out front. A tool shed radio croons a lonesome country western tune. No one is around to hear it.
This is where, Monday night, 14-year-old Tony Day allegedly stabbed his sister and shot his mother, who had adopted him as a foster child. He had been one of nearly 100 foster children his adoptive mother and father had taken into their home on the outskirts of Tucumcari.
His middle school principal and wrestling coach say he was well-behaved — an A or B student, a good athlete, a quiet kid who refused to fight when another boy provoked him last year in the seventh grade. He had no criminal history, according to a spokesman from the Children, Youth and Families Department.
“I’m totally, totally, totally just shocked beyond belief that this could actually happen, simply because of the way he was with me,” said wrestling coach Eddie Encinias. “He didn’t hesitate at following directions. He was a hard little worker.”
State Police believe that Tony Day used scissors to stab his 49-year-old adopted sister, Sherry Folts, the adopted daughter of Sue Day. Later, when police officers entered the home, they found her lying in a far west bedroom.
After killing Folts, Tony Day went to his 15-year-old brother Scott’s room in bloodied clothes and solicited his help to kill the rest of the family, according to police.
Scott went to warn his parents, said State Police Capt. Ryan Suggs. At some point — Suggs wasn’t sure when — Tony got a rifle from an outdoor shed and shot Sue Day, 67, police said. She was found in the hallway. Police believe he shot her twice before Scott could grab the gun from him. Scott struck him in the face with it, knocking out two of Tony’s teeth.
Tony did not give police a reason he did it, but said he intended to kill his father, Mike, as well, Suggs said. Mike Day and a 9-month-old foster baby were also in the house.
Tony Day told an officer at the scene that, after he stabbed Folts, he blacked out and did not remember anything else.
Prosecutors say they intend to pursue an adult sentence against him.
‘Earth mother type’
In a photo collage of Sue Day posted on the wall of the Children, Youth and Families office in Tucumcari, the woman with short, gray hair is smiling with dozens of foster children.
“She was very much the Earth mother type,” said CYFD Secretary Yolanda Berumen-Deines, who had met her on several occasions. “It’s like one of our staff mentioned — she was always ready to provide advice or consolation. She was a caretaker; she wanted to help. She wanted to take care of people, children especially. She wanted to make their lives better.”
Family members declined to be interviewed. About a dozen of them met with Berumen-Deines and other CYFD staff Wednesday afternoon.
Sue Day also served as a foster parent liaison, meaning she helped mentor and train other foster parents.
“She was a stern disciplinarian,” Berumen-Deines said. “No one will ever question that. But it was never out of control. It was the structure that kids need, that so many kids don’t get anymore. Kids could know they were loved, but they knew there was a boundary which they couldn’t pass.”
Sue and Mike Day adopted Tony and Scott three or four years ago, according to CYFD.
A stoic eighth-grader in glasses stares out from Tony Day’s Tucumcari Middle School yearbook photo. It’s more serious than his seventh-grade photo, which shows him with a buzz cut and a smile.
Last year, another student tried to pick a fight with Day at school.
“He actually attacked (Tony),” recalled Principal Roberta Segura. “And Tony didn’t fight. He knew what the consequence was for fighting. He said, ‘I don’t want to fight.’ And he didn’t.”
The only trouble he got into was last year, when he and his brother tried to light some hand sanitizer on fire on the school bus as a gag. They were disciplined for that, she said.
“He wasn’t really a kid you would say was in trouble,” Segura said. “Very quiet. Did his work.”
Students at Tucumcari Middle School were in shock, Segura said, and she brought in counselors for those who wanted to talk and allowed them to share things with their teachers.
Outside the school Wednesday, Jimmy Wallace was picking up his grandson, Ethan Rogers, 12.
Both described the news as “scary.” Wallace said he doesn’t know the family but used to be a foster parent.
“I hope it doesn’t set back the foster care system,” he said.
Both Tony and Scott wrestled last year, although only Scott went out for the team this year. Tony also played football, but wasn’t involved in other extra-curricular activities, his principal said.
At practice Wednesday night, wrestling coach Encinias said Tony followed instructions well and was “just a good kid.”
“Tony was probably one of the easiest kids to work with I ever had,” Encinias said.
He said Scott had stopped in at practice Tuesday night — the night after his mother and sister were killed — to talk. He was “emotionally drained,” the coach said.
“You know what? This community’s really hurting,” he said. “It’s really unexpected.”
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal
11/30/12 — Teen Faces Sentencing As an Adult
By Deborah Ziff/Journal Staff Writer
Prosecutors will pursue first-degree murder charges and an adult sentence against 14-year-old Tony Day, who is accused of killing both his adopted sister and mother in their Tucumcari home.
The former foster child admitted stabbing his sister Sherry Folts, 49, and shooting his mother Sue Day, 67, with a rifle on Monday, according to an affidavit for the arrest warrant.
After stabbing Folts – State Police believe he used scissors – he tried to get his 15-year-old brother, Scott, to help kill other members of the family, the document says.
Scott tried to warn his mother and father, according to State Police Capt. Ryan Suggs, and eventually wrested the gun out of his brother’s hands, but not before Tony shot their mom.
Tony Day’s attorney, Jeffrey Buckels of the Public Defender’s Office, did not return a call Thursday.
According to the court documents and Suggs:
Day entered Scott’s room with blood on his clothes and told him that he had killed their sister. He said they needed to kill the rest of the family.
Scott Day went to warn Sue and Mike Day. At some point, Tony got a rifle from an outside shed and shot their mother. Scott grabbed the rifle, struck him in the face with the butt and knocked out two of Tony’s teeth. A .22-caliber rifle was found at the scene.
When police arrived just after 11:30 p.m., they found Folts’ body in a far west bedroom and Sue Day’s body in the hallway of the double-wide mobile home.
Tony Day told police officers that, after he stabbed Folts, he blacked out and didn’t remember anything else, according to the affidavit.
Scott Day may have helped prevent more violence. His father, Mike Day, was in the house, as well as a 9-month-old foster baby. The affidavit does not say what the father was doing at the time or where he was in the home.
Tony Day “did tell us he stabbed his sister, shot his mother, and his intentions were to also shoot his father,” Suggs said.
The baby was taken into custody that night by the Children, Youth and Families Department and placed with another foster family.
Sue and Mike Day had taken in between 80 to 100 foster children over the course of seven years. They adopted both Tony and Scott three to four years ago.
Timothy Rose, 10th Judicial District chief deputy district attorney, filed a notice of intent to treat Day as a youthful offender and invoke an adult sentence.
If he is convicted of first-degree murder, he could receive the maximum adult penalty of life in prison, Rose said.
Should he be convicted, a hearing would determine whether he will be sentenced as a juvenile or adult. If he is convicted of anything less than first-degree murder, the maximum consequence he could face would be detention in a juvenile facility until age 21.
Rose was a co-defense attorney when then 14-year-old Cody Posey fatally shot his father, stepmother and stepsister on a ranch – owned by ABC newsman Sam Donaldson – where the family lived in 2004. Prosecutors sought an adult sentence in that case, but the judge sentenced Posey as a juvenile after determining he could be rehabilitated.
Day’s age is important in determining whether he could be sentenced as an adult under the New Mexico children’s code.
Children under the age of 14 can never receive an adult sanction. Children who are 14 years old can only receive an adult sanction if they are convicted of first-degree murder. Children who are 15 years or older can receive an adult sanction for several different crimes, Rose said.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal