ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A therapist and a psychiatrist, who have worked with the teen who killed his family, took the stand Thursday during a hearing to see if the now 18-year-old should be sentenced as an adult.
Griego’s Stories of His Past
Nehemiah Griego admitted to killing his parents and three younger siblings when he was 15-years-old before that, however, his attorneys say he never got into any trouble. Only, that’s not what Griego himself was telling people, like the psychiatrists evaluating his mental health.
“He told me he was involved in drive-by shootings at a house three or four times,” said Dr. Stephen Manlove, a forensic psychiatrist. “He helped Los Padillas find specific targets and he was with them when he hunted down a member of the Bloods.”
Dr. Manlove testified on Thursday for Griego’s attorneys.
He said Griego was “faking bad,” lying about gang ties.
Griego told him why. “It was to glorify my acts by make them being part of being a gangster,” Dr. Manlove said.
The psychiatrist said Griego was likely trying to make sense of why he murdered his family.
“If they don’t understand why something happened, they develop a narrative to explain it,” Dr. Manlove said.
Griego’s therapist said he was repeating stories from his dad, who really was in a gang before turning to the church to become a pastor.
“A born-again gangster. A pastor but always angry,” Dr. Manlove said of Griego’s description of his father.
Griego described his mom as distant, saying she put him down a lot.
“Making statements, ‘I wish you got shot. I wish we were in the biblical age, so I could stone you to death,’” Dr. Manlove said, reading what Griego told him his mother had said to him.
The defense blames Griego’s knowledge and interest in guns and the military on his father, saying it was his only option.
The state says not so fast. “What about ministry? That was a model,” a prosecutor questioned the defense’s witness.
“Yeah, but Nehemiah wasn’t excited about it,” Dr. Manlove responded.
“Exactly! So, it was really Nehemiah’s driven… it was his desire to follow the military,” the prosecutor said.
Griego has lived at an Albuquerque psychiatric facility for the last year and a half and his defense thinks he should stay in one.
His therapist, Cheryl Aiken, said Griego was intolerant and racist when she first started meeting with him. But she said it was something he was taught.
“He indicated that both his mom and dad were prejudice and he kind of learned it from them, and most of them could not be trusted,” said Aiken.
His therapist also said the teen’s father was paranoid. She said he trained Greigo to shoot someone if they came on their property.
“Like he talked about having to guard the house, beyond the front porch and patrol the area so nobody would came in,” said Aiken. “He said that his dad was afraid of the neighbors trying to get in or robbing them and he was afraid of the government maybe coming to get him.”
Aiken testified that Griego is getting better and is treatable. She said he has also shown emotion.
“He’s always saying how he’s sad, he’s really remorseful about what he did, and that he misses them,” said Aiken.
Dr. Manlove interviewed Griego and said it was clear he dealt with depression his entire life, but he was never treated because his father kept him in extreme isolation.
Reports of Aggression
Prosecutors then grilled the therapist about Griego’s behavior at his treatment center.
“It says after transitioning from lunch he approached a staff member saying he needed to speak with her, he was visibly angry and began to yell at her in an aggressive manner, stating that he is tired of being disrespected when she doesn’t know why she does these things for all these other knuckleheads,” said Prosecutor Michelle Pato.
The prosecutor also brought up that Griego recently threatened to kill another kid at his treatment center. She said he’s also obsessed with reading books about Hitler at his center.
“He was up all night reading a book about Hitler,” said Pato. “He was hyper when he came out of his room at about 5:40 a.m. fully dressed, and was observed playing with the locks on the door of the lodge.”
If it’s proven Griego is treatable, he would be sentenced as a juvenile and could get out when he’s 21. If sentenced as an adult, he could spend life in prison.
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