FARMINGTON — A district judge ruled Tuesday that the Farmington teen charged with killing a local doctor will remain incarcerated at the juvenile detention center despite the state’s attempt to house him in the adult jail.
John Mayes, 18, faces first-degree murder charges after he allegedly sneaked into the North Foothills home of Dr. James Nordstrom, 57, and beat him with a pool cue before burying his body in a woodpile during a June 9 incident.
He is accused of lying in wait in Nordstrom’s bedroom for more than an hour before killing the man.
The accused teen marked his 18th birthday in the juvenile facility Sept. 5, three months after the incident occurred, but turning 18 alone is not a reason to move a defendant into an adult jail, according to state statute.
The state argued it was not appropriate for the teen to be housed with other children because he had turned 18 and given the violent nature of the crime Mayes is accused of committing.
Mayes has not had any disciplinary issues at the juvenile facility and was moved from a segregated unit into an area with other offenders, District Judge William Birdsall said.
Other than Mayes turning 18, the state did not present evidence that prompted a transfer, Birdsall said.
“There really isn’t anything indicating the adult facility is any more appropriate than the juvenile facility,” Birdsall said. “I don’t find we have anything that justifies a transfer at this moment.”
Mayes’ attorney, Stephen Taylor, argued that although his client faces adult sanctions if convicted of the first-degree charge, a possibility remains Mayes still could face juvenile sanctions if convicted of a lesser degree charge.
“John is amenable to treatment if found as a youthful offender,” Taylor said. “It’s prejudicial to place him in an adult setting without knowing what the outcome is.”
The juvenile facility also provides a full education with five employed teachers.
Traci Neff, administrator for the juvenile facility, said that despite Mayes’ move from a segregated unit, he remains in a separate unit from younger children accused of committing less serious offenses.
“It’s very individualized,” said Neff, who would not put a serious youthful offender in the same unit as a 12-year-old accused of shoplifting.
Some, however, contend Mayes’ presence at the juvenile facility remains a security issue.
“This individual is accused of a serious crime,” said John Edwards, a life-long friend of Nordstrom. “If convicted, he looks at a serious disposition, so you can draw your own conclusions. I think security is an issue.”
Neff said the juvenile facility is just as secure as the adult jail.
“There is no difference in the level of security,” she said. “There is no difference in the level of razor wire, perimeter fences and controlled doors.”
She added that “it’s clear the judge denied the motion based on the way the law is written,” not based on her discretion, which is a common misperception of the juvenile facility and her role as administrator.
For Edwards, however, the choice is clear.
“My friend, Jim Nordstrom, was quite capable of taking care of himself,” Edwards said. “But there’s not much you can do about an ambush. This community is not safe with the individual. Not where he currently is.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services