A judge has denied a request from lawyers representing two juveniles accused in the fatal beating of two Navajo homeless men in Albuquerque to have all non-felony charges tried in juvenile court.
During a hearing on Wednesday, lawyers representing Nathaniel Carrillo, 16, and Gilbert Tafoya, 15, who are both charged with several counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, tampering with evidence and manslaughter, arguing that these crimes were juvenile delinquent offenses, which could carry a less stringent sentence, such as rehabilitation.
But a judicial district court judge ruled since both juveniles were charged with felony first-degree murder that all charges against them will stay within the jurisdiction of district court.
About two-dozen family members of the deceased and supporters attended the hearing, some traveling more than a 100 miles from the Navajo Nation area to Albuquerque.
“We are relieved,” said Alberta Gorman, the sister of Allison Bailey Gorman, 44, of Shiprock, one of the two Navajo homeless men that police say the teens brutally murdered on July 19. The families of both men said the men came to the city looking for more opportunities.
“We’ve been together as a family since then for support and we’re trying to move on,” she said.
According to court documents and police reports, Carrillo and Tafoya deliberately killed Gorman and Kee Thompson by smashing their heads with cinder blocks and bricks or wooden poles as they slept on a mattress. The two teens are also accused of stealing Gorman’s driver’s license and EBT card, and beating a third homeless man, Jerome Eskeets, who got away.
Alex Rios, 18, also has been charged with first-degree murder and is considered the instigator in the incident. He faces contributing to the delinquency of a minor charges, according to court documents.
All three accused have pleaded innocent, though they admitted to the murders in statements to police. Tafoya and Carrillo are in the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center while Rios is at the Metropolitan Detention Center.
After the brutal murders, the City of Albuquerque and the Navajo Nation agreed to create a task force to collaborate and search for resources to aid Native American homeless people with other area tribes. Among Albuquerque’s homeless population, Native Americans are more likely to be physically attacked, hospitalized more often, are more prone to substance abuse, and are homeless for longer periods of time, according to a city report.
The task force will make its recommendations to Mayor Richard Berry in November.
A jury trial for the accused teens has been scheduled on March 2, 2015.