ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The teen who initially confessed to killing an Albuquerque bartender has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, but he’ll get a break on his sentence.
Jeremiah King, 18, faced a judge Thursday morning and pleaded guilty in the killing of Steven Gerecke.
First degree murder usually carries a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 30 years, but as part of the deal with the District Attorney’s Office King will be sentenced as an adult and faces up to 27 years behind bars.
His defense attorney tells KRQE News 13 this plea deal was damage control.
King, just 16 years old in June of last year, confessed to the killing to police. He’s one of six teens who were breaking into cars and homes the night he pulled the trigger and murdered Gerecke in his driveway after Gerecke came out to confront him.
Thursday, he also pleaded guilty to six lesser charges. His trial was set to start early next month.
The state was scared to go to trial fearing the jury would find King guilty on a lesser charge and he would be eligible for an amenability hearing, meaning he could be sentenced as a juvenile and get out by age 21.
While the family says it was a relief to hear a guilty plea they say it’s not enough.
All five of the other teens involved have taken plea deals for lesser charges — none for killing Gerecke — and have not been sentenced yet.
King’s sentencing will happen in late February. The state is asking for plenty of time for the family to address the court.
Gerecke was a well known bartender beloved by many in the community.