ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Prosecutors announced Friday, the 15-year-old accused of murdering his 12-year-old friend will be charged as an adult.
Brandon Villalobos isn’t even old enough to have a driver’s license. But, the 15-year-old is old enough for the state to charge him as an adult, with first-degree murder.
“By doing this, the state not only emphasizes the serious nature of the charges, but it allows it a little more time to complete the investigation,” explained Valencia County District Attorney, Lemuel Martinez.
If Villalobos had been charged as a juvenile, prosecutors would have had a shorter timeline to work on the case.
Villalobos was with 12-year-old Alex Madrid the night Madrid went missing last week. Investigators said he admitted to hitting the boy once, and said he hid Madrid’s body under a mattress, where he led investigators.
Villalobos told detectives the two had fought after an argument, when Madrid said something about Villalobos’ 4-month-old baby.
The suspect’s mom heard about the state’s decision to charge her son as an adult in an earlier KRQE News 13 newscast on Friday.
“I’m very shocked right now, very hurt,” said Loretta Villalobos, the suspect’s mom.
The charges worry her.
“What I don’t want to happen is for him to get sent to prison because he’s MR, you know, he’s not, he’s not understanding none of this right now,” said Loretta Villalobos.
The suspect’s mom told KRQE News 13 her son, a special needs student at Los Lunas High School, is developmentally delayed.
His past includes battery and fighting charges. Attorneys have argued insanity in previous cases, but prosecutors said Friday, that has nothing to do with the current case.
When asked about Villalobos’ mental state and whether that will play a part in this case, Martinez said that will be up to the defense to bring up in court, if they choose to do so.
Martinez added, it was a tough decision in a horrific case.
“Twelve years of life is not very long for any of us, for anybody to live, so to have that taken away is tragic,” said Martinez.
The victim’s family sent KRQE News 13 a statement saying, “we are relieved to hear that Brandon Villalobos will be tried as an adult. It is a tragic experience we have been through. We pray that justice will be served.”
Even if Villalobos is convicted of first-degree murder, he can still be sentenced as a youthful offender. That means a judge doesn’t have to impose the maximum 30 year sentence, as would be the case for an adult.