Competency hearing set in school shooting - Albuquerque Journal

Competency hearing set in school shooting

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

A 13-year-old boy charged in the shooting death of a Washington Middle School classmate is scheduled for a hearing Nov. 8 to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.

Juan Saucedo Jr. has been charged as a juvenile with first-degree murder in connection with the Aug. 13 shooting death of 13-year-old Bennie Hargrove, an eighth grade student, during a lunch break at Washington Middle School.

Saucedo also was charged Aug. 17 with unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon on a school campus, and two counts of conspiracy, 2nd Judicial District Court records show.

No other arrests had been made in the shooting as of Wednesday, said Lauren Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the 2nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Police allege Saucedo took his father’s gun to school the morning of the shooting. Investigators said Hargrove was trying to stop Saucedo from bullying his friends when Saucedo pulled a gun and shot him multiple times.

A Children’s Court judge ordered a psychologist to evaluate Saucedo to determine his ability to stand trial and to recommend a treatment plan for him.

If a judge finds him competent, Saucedo will be tried as a juvenile because he is under 14.

Dennica Torres, Saucedo’s attorney, said the psychologist must determine whether he is capable of assisting in his own defense, based on medical records, mental health assessments, educational records and interviews with the child and parents.

If Saucedo is not competent to stand trial, the case will be stayed for up to a year in an attempt to treat him to competency, Torres said in a written statement.

However, “New Mexico currently does not offer any therapeutic programs to treat juveniles to competency,” Torres said.

At a hearing in August, Torres argued Saucedo should be released from custody because he needs treatment for mental health issues that is unavailable at the Bernalillo County Youth Services Center.

Saucedo is a special education student under the care of a therapist and takes medication to treat mental illness, Torres told the judge.

Children’s Court Judge Catherine Begaye ordered Saucedo to remain in custody after Hargrove’s grandmother, a probation officer, and prosecutor Mari Martinez spoke in opposition to his release.


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