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Teenager arraigned in boy’s death

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LOS LUNAS – Among the fatal wounds 12-year-old Alex Madrid suffered were repeated stab wounds to the head and trauma to the torso severe enough to puncture a lung.

Defense attorney Cindy Mercer, left, stands with her client, Brandon Villalobos, in a courtroom Friday afternoon, where Mercer entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the teen. Villalobos is accused of the February death of 12-year-old Alex Madrid. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Defense attorney Cindy Mercer, left, stands with her client, Brandon Villalobos, in a courtroom Friday afternoon, where Mercer entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the teen. Villalobos is accused of the February death of 12-year-old Alex Madrid. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

The nature of the injuries suffered by Madrid, whose body was found in a vacant lot in Meadow Lake last month, were revealed by Valencia County Assistant District Attorney Darlene Weed during a Friday afternoon arraignment for 15-year-old Brandon Villalobos, who has been accused of that murder.

Defense attorney Cindy Mercer entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of the teen, but prefaced it by saying her client’s low mental functioning made her question his ability to understand the proceedings or his rights – a concern she has raised previously.

State District Court Judge Violet Otero acknowledged the concern, reviewed the charges and rights for Villalobos, then set a $500,000 cash-only bond. The amount was requested by Weed, based on Villalobos’ past history of violence, the seriousness of the charges and the strength of the case.

In justifying the request for the large bond, Weed told the court that the victim had been stabbed repeatedly in the head by an object similar to a screwdriver found at the crime scene, that he was struck hard enough in the torso to cause a punctured lung and he suffered other blunt force injuries “consistent with a tire iron.”

Villalobos was indicted earlier this month and will be tried as an adult unless declared incompetent to stand trial.

Roxanne Madrid, mother of 12-year-old homicide victim Alex Madrid, sobs outside a courtroom after the Friday arraignment of Brandon Villalobos, 15, who is accused of killing her son. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Roxanne Madrid, mother of 12-year-old homicide victim Alex Madrid, sobs outside a courtroom after the Friday arraignment of Brandon Villalobos, 15, who is accused of killing her son. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Villalobos entered the courtroom in Los Lunas, handcuffed and head bowed. He said nothing during the proceeding, which lasted less than five minutes. Roxanne Madrid, mother of the murdered boy, as well as other Madrid family members and friends, could be heard sobbing during the arraignment.

An aisle separated the defendant’s family and supporters from the victim’s. A court security officer loudly reminded one spectator not to speak to anyone as he was exiting the room at the conclusion of the hearing.

Madrid’s body was found beneath a mattress in a vacant lot on Feb. 18. Valencia County Sheriff Louis Burkhard said Madrid’s mother went to pick up her son that day at the Meadow Lake home where Villalobos lives, but her son was not there. She then reported her son missing to the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office. That evening, Villalobos led deputies to Madrid’s body.

The teen later told investigators that he and Alex argued after Alex said something about Villalobos’ infant daughter, according to an affidavit. Villalobos told investigators Alex tried to stab him with a screwdriver and that he hit Alex once in the face.

Villalobos is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs about 235 pounds; Madrid has been described as 4 feet, 8 inches tall, weighing about 85 pounds.

Villalobos has previously been arrested on battery and other charges. In at least one of those cases, he was declared incompetent to stand trial. A determination of competency is pending in another.

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