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Teen convicted in fatal drive-by to be sentenced as adult

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque judge on Tuesday ruled that Carlos Alires, who was 15 when he took part in a fatal drive-by shooting, will be sentenced as an adult.

Carlos Alires, right, talks with attorney David Serna after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in September 2017. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Under Tuesday’s decision and an earlier plea agreement, Alires, now 18, could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

State District Judge Daniel Ramczyk made the ruling Tuesday morning during an amenability hearing, which seeks to determine whether a juvenile can be rehabilitated. If so, he or she is sentenced as a child and may remain in custody until age 21, and if not, the defendant is sentenced as an adult.

Ramczyk’s ruling diverged from the recommendations of state and defense experts and a juvenile probation officer, all of whom found that Alires was amenable to treatment.

“It’s rare that both sides agree,” Alires’ attorney David Serna said. “When both sides agree, we assume it’s a foregone conclusion.”

Serna said Ramczyk’s decision was a disappointment and a shock. He plans to file an appeal.

Aliyah Garcia’s family said the ruling left them feeling a step closer to justice.

Aliyah Garcia

According to prosecutors, Alires was one of three people who fired shots that night, killing Garcia, 18, as she talked to her mom on the phone. Alires’ brother, Cisco, who was also involved, told deputies that the group was planning to steal marijuana from a person who lived in a home near where Garcia was parked. And when the plan failed, the group shot up the house. Patrick Zamora, the alleged leader of the group was sentenced to 16 years in prison; Marisa Sepulveda was sentenced to 12 years; Joseph Sanchez was sentenced to 16; and Cisco Alires was sentenced to juvenile probation.

Serna said his client, who is one of triplets, was abandoned at birth by a mother struggling with drug addiction. But since he has been in custody, Alires has found success in treatment.

“They witnessed lots of violence, including shootings and stabbings in the head under the roof where they grew up. There were no rules, there was constant use of drugs and smoking of methamphetamine and constant robberies,” Serna said. “It was an absolute school of crime.”

Ramczyk said he was glad Alires was taking advantage of the treatment available to him, but that his problems would not go away overnight.

“It would be foolhardy for me to believe that within the next two years or so, you’re going to get some kind of magic bullet treatment that’s going to transform you from an individual who had serious problems growing up that resulted in this horrendous crime … into a law abiding, safe, functioning individual,” he said.

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