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Teen charged with killing cousin stays in custody

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The 15-year-old boy accused of killing and possibly sexually assaulting his 9-year-old cousin last week has agreed to stay behind bars until his trial.

Jeramiah Morfin appeared with his attorneys before Judge J. Richard Brown for a pretrial detention hearing in 2nd Judicial District Court Friday morning. Media were not allowed to take photos or film the teenager’s face.

The hearing lasted less than three minutes because the District Attorney’s Office and Morfin’s public defenders agreed to keep him locked up at the Juvenile Detention Center.

Jeramiah Morfin

“At this time the parties stipulate to hold Mr. Morfin under the Children’s Code and stipulate that he is a danger to others,” said prosecutor Johnna Walker. “I would also state the state has not waived its right to prosecute Mr. Morfin as a serious youthful offender.”

Morfin, who attended Atrisco Heritage Academy High School, is charged with murder and tampering with evidence and is being tried as an adult.

He doesn’t have any criminal history, according to police and court documents.

A shackled Morfin shuffled into the courtroom and sat quietly next to his attorneys. Two women, both wearing memorial ribbons, attended the hearing, but quickly left afterward.

The investigation began on Saturday when Morfin’s mother called police to say her niece – Morfin’s cousin – was missing from the home and her son was acting strangely. The girl had been staying the night at her aunt’s house in the 2200 block of Dry Gulch SW, near Unser and Blake, for a sleepover.

Police have refused to release the girl’s name. She was in fourth grade at Edward Gonzales Elementary, according to an APS spokeswoman.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, Morfin gave his mother’s boyfriend a note that said, in part, “I finally lost it” “I attacked her” and “I killed her.”

Morfin led officers to a drainage tunnel in an arroyo less than half a mile from his house, according to the complaint. That’s where police found his cousin wrapped in a blanket, dead. The Office of the Medical Investigator determined she died from blunt force trauma and strangulation.

She had bruising on her stomach that matched the diamond-pattern tread on the bottom of Morfin’s shoes, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in District Court.

When detectives checked security camera footage from a street near Morfin’s house they saw a person carrying a “limp body with a blanket” early that morning.

“The faces are not visible, but the time, location and totality of the circumstances indicate this would be Jeramiah and (the girl),” a detective wrote in the affidavit.