Minors in Albuquerque homeless beating deaths seek amenability hearing

Nathaniel Carrillo and Gilbert Tafoya
Nathaniel Carrillo and Gilbert Tafoya

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Attorneys for two boys accused of beating two homeless men to death will argue that they are being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. They are making a legal move to try to lighten the teens’ sentences if they are convicted, having said the boys may not have known what they were doing.

In a 26-page court document, they argue the judge should take into account the boys’ mental development and how they were raised before deciding how long they should spend behind bars.

“They went over there with the intent to hurt these individuals in that lot,” Albuquerque police officer Simon Drobik said last July.

It was a crime that rocked the city, two homeless men beaten to death with poles and cinder blocks in a dirt lot off Central.

“I mean, I was sick to my stomach,” Drobik said. “It was horrific, you know…kids.”

Alex Rios, Nathaniel Carrillo and Gilbert Tafoya have all been charged with first-degree murder.

Now, the two minors, Carrillo and Tafoya, are seeking a legal move.

“Children simply do not have the impulse control, the self-control in general that adults have,” Jeff Buckels with the Public Defender’s Office said Tuesday. He represents Carrillo.

Carrillo was 16 years old at the time of the crime and Tafoya was 15. If they are convicted of murder, they could get life in prison.

Buckels has filed a motion in which he’s asking for an amenability hearing, or a hearing to look at the boys’ maturity, brain development, past criminal record and home life, among other things.

“The amenability asks whether or not a child can benefit from rehabilitation from therapy,” he added.

That could mean a sentence in juvenile jail until they are 21 years old.

Buckels is arguing that the current law is flawed.

“If the boys had been 14 rather than 15 and 16 and they were convicted of first-degree murder, they would still receive an amenability hearing,” he said. “The current science of the development of adolescent brains is very clear that there’s really no difference.”

Buckels also points to U.S. Supreme Court rulings in his motion.

In two months the teens will get the chance to make their case.

“Gilbert and Nathaniel would like their day in court to be able to present evidence related to their history,” Stephen Taylor, who also works with the Public Defender’s Office said.

The next step will be a hearing on May 8th to see if Carrillo and Tafoya can get the amenability hearings. If granted, those hearings will take place after the trial but before sentencing.

Alex Rios, the third teen accused in the beating deaths, was 18-years-old at the time.

All three are behind bars awaiting trial which is scheduled for October 19th.

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