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Griego hearing sent back to Children’s Court

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The state Supreme Court announced Thursday that it will not review a lower court’s order instructing a judge to reconsider whether Nehemiah Griego should be sentenced as an adult.

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Nehemiah Griego

Griego, 21, shot and killed his parents and three young siblings at their South Valley home in January 2013, when he was 15. Children’s Court Judge John Romero determined that Griego would respond to treatment and sentenced him as a juvenile, meaning he was set for release at age 21. But days before his birthday, the Court of Appeals sent the case back to Romero for a new amenability hearing.

At that hearing, Romero must determine for a second time whether Griego should face juvenile or adult sanctions for his crimes. He faces up to 120 years in prison if sentenced as an adult.

Early this month, Griego’s appellate public defender asked the Supreme Court to review that Court of Appeals opinion, arguing that the decision created due process and double jeopardy problems.

Attorney General Hector Balderas said that the Supreme Court has “cleared the way for the new amenability hearing my office sought for Nehemiah Griego in the murders of his young siblings and parents.”

The Supreme Court offered no explanation in its order denying that request.

Griego’s attorney Stephen Taylor said the decision is a disappointment. Griego’s first amenability hearing lasted two weeks, and so a second one, Taylor said, “seems like a waste of resources.”

“If we have to present evidence to show that he’s amenable again, we’ll do that,” he said. “And we believe that Nehemiah is more amenable to treatment now, due to the five years of rehabilitation and treatment he’s received from the state. So for us it’s not much of a question.”

For now, Griego is being housed at the Metropolitan Detention Center as he awaits a second amenability hearing in Children’s Court. Griego has asked the court for permission to stay at an out-of-state treatment center while his case is pending, and he is set for a hearing on that motion May 15, according to court documents.

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