ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – After three teens were arrested and charged for murdering two homeless men while they slept, many people have asked “where was the parenting” as the teens roamed the streets in the middle of the night terrorizing the homeless.
So could the parents of the teens be charged, as well?
It’s rare, but New Mexico prosecutors have charged parents who’ve let their kids run wild and commit crimes.
KRQE News 13 has learned there were warning signs with the three teens: 15-year old Gilbert Tafoya, 16-year old Nathaniel Carrillo and 18-year old Alex Rios. One of them even told police they’d been terrorizing the homeless for months.
But all of it may not be enough to hold the parents accountable.
The families of Tafoya and Carrillo watched at the two teens and their friend, Rios, faced a judge Monday afternoon on charges they bludgeoned two homeless men to death in a dirt lot off west Central Avenue on Saturday morning. But once again, the teen’s families dodge cameras, giving no explanation for their boys actions.
“No comment, no comment,” said multiple family members on Monday.
It’s a crime that has left many wondering.
“My question would be who failed these kids? How did they get to this point?” said Officer Simon Drobik, a spokesman for Albuquerque Police.
News 13 has learned at least one of the teens, 16-year old Nathaniel Carrillo has a criminal history for burglary and arson, a crime that he committed when he was just 12-years old in 2010.
Albuquerque Public Schools confirmed Monday that all three teens dropped out of the district in the past two years. APS says Rios went to Atrisco Heritage High School until March 2014, but transferred to another school out of district. Records show Carrillo finished 8th grade at Jefferson Middle School but then transferred to an out of district school.
APS says Tafoya was suspended through the end of his 8th grade year at John Adams Middle School, but then failed to register at another high school. APS says in that case, the district’s truancy investigators wouldn’t have any school to begin looking at to hold the parent accountable to a legal obligation that their students remain in school until the age of 18.
Tafoya is the 15-year old that told APD that he and his buddies spent the last year going around Albuquerque beating up dozens of homeless people.
It’s unclear if the teens’ parents knew their kids were out of control. However, at this point, APD says it is not investigating the teens’ parents for negligence.
“From what I understand the parents just completely shattered,” APD Officer Simon Drobik said on Sunday.
Reached Monday evening, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg told KRQE News 13 that in the decade and a half she’s been DA, her office has never prosecuted parents for crimes their kids committed.
Brandenburg said she would be hesitant to go down that road — in the case of the brutal, deadly beating of two homeless men over the weekend, or in general — unless there was “firm legal ground” for charges.
She did not elaborate, but said she couldn’t think of any criminal statutes to use against parents for the behavior of their children.
“It would have to be clear that any action our office took was supported by law,” Brandenburg said. “As far as I know, there are no specific challenges, such as mental disabilities (that the suspects have.) If that were the case, and the parents were negligent to that end, it might be different.”
Charging parents for their children’s actions is rare nationwide, she said.
“As our office learns more, and if something justifiable by law comes up, then it’s something we would consider,” Brandenburg said.
The longtime DA also stressed the need for more services for people struggling with homelessness in Albuquerque.
“We need help and resources for them,” Brandenburg said. “They are often the victims of crime, buy we never know about it because they don’t often report them. I feel like that needs to change, too.”
Defense attorney Ousama Rasheed says he agrees that it would be hard to charge parents for losing control of their kids.
“I think the legal system is sort of reluctant to just ‘willy-nilly’ charge parents when their children do bad things because human beings act on their own impulses,” said Rasheed.
Police say they’re looking into this crime spree against the homeless that one of the teens bragged about.
The three teens are all behind bars on $5-millon bonds. If they’re all tried and sentenced as adults they could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Earlier in 2014, a 15-year-old boy’s mother was charged with child abuse resulting in death after her son was charged with murdering a friend.
The Valencia County District Attorney charged Loretta Villalobos for letting her son Brandon run wild when she knew he had mental problems and was violent. He’s accused of bludgeoning his 12-year-old friend Alex Madrid to death in a Meadow Lake field in February.