ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Linda Hubler’s son wasn’t facing a judge on murder charges Monday afternoon.
But she was at Children’s Court to answer those who have put her and the other parents of six teenagers accused of murder on trial for failed parenting.
Heated words flew across the lobby of the Children’s Courthouse when Hubler encountered the widow of the man the teenagers are accused of killing as, police say, they ransacked cars and homes in a night of “mobbing” in the Northeast Heights.
A security guard intervened to keep the woman and the man’s family apart.
“I’m not saying he’s not involved, but they’re bashing me who has nothing to do with it,” Hubler said. “This is my son. I’m going to back up my son. I love him. He could be the worst person on earth, but I’m still his mom, and I’m still going to be there for him, no matter what.”
Police say Hubler’s 16-year-old son, Andrew Hubler, was involved in the fatal shooting of Steven Gerecke in the driveway of his home in the Sandia foothills June 26.
He faces murder charges along with Ryan Archibeque, 17, Christopher Rodriguez, 16, Jeremiah King, 16, Matthew Baldonado, 14, and Enrique Palomino, 14.
Gerecke, 60, had returned home from work as a bartender and had gone outside to turn on a sprinkler when someone broke into his house on Chihuahua NE, his wife, Vinnie Gerecke, said in court Monday. She said she thinks that when Gerecke went back inside he encountered the teens in the kitchen and chased them out the front of the house to the driveway, where he was shot.
Vinnie Gerecke and many other members of the Gerecke family attended the detention hearing for the two youngest teenagers, Baldonado and Palomino, on Monday. The other four are being tried as adults and had their felony first appearance in Metropolitan Court on Friday.
Judge John Romero set Baldonado and Palomino’s bail at $250,000, cash only, the same as for their four friends.
Vinnie Gerecke choked up as she addressed first Baldonado, then Palomino. It is customary for a victim or victim’s family to appear at detention hearings, according to Tim Korte, a spokesman for the district court.
“I know it wasn’t one of these two (that shot Steven Gerecke), but they were all there and all together,” Vinnie Gerecke said. “They took everything and dumped what they didn’t need on the streets. Was my husband’s life worth petty cash and $32 spent at McDonald’s?”
After the hearing, she told reporters she was pursuing legislation to hold parents partly responsible for their children’s crimes.
Needs better friends
Baldonado’s father, Steven Baldonado, attended the hearing but shook his head when asked whether he had any comment regarding his son’s bail. Palomino was accompanied by a representative of the Children, Youth and Families Department, where he is in legal custody.
The prosecuting attorney brought up concerns that the six defendants, who are all being housed in the Juvenile Detention Center, could come into contact with one another and was assured steps will be taken to ensure they are supervised at all times.
One of the six has been segregated for his own safety due to threats on his life, but a spokesman for the Juvenile Detention Center wouldn’t say which one.
Andrew Hubler, a ninth-grader, had attended Highland High School until late April when he disenrolled, according to a spokesman for the Albuquerque Public Schools.
He was supposed to transfer to another school, but he didn’t show up. He has two other cases pending, one for criminal damage to property and another for shoplifting, possession of alcohol by a minor and battery.
Linda Hubler said she had concerns when her son didn’t return home a couple weeks before Gerecke was killed, but when she reported him missing, she was told there was nothing police could do. He turned up after a couple days, and the family was in the middle of changing apartments the night Gerecke was shot, she said.
It is not against the law for a juvenile to run away, APD officer Tanner Tixier said. The only thing police can do is enter the child into the National Crime Information Center database and call the parents if that child is found, he said.
Linda Hubler said she works the graveyard shift as a nurse’s assistant and is often working all night.
“My son wasn’t even on the premise when there were gunshots,” Linda Hubler said. “Maybe he needs to make better choices of friends. I don’t like the fact that she’s bashing me and my son and the parents when I do everything to get what my kid needs.”