ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Will he be sentenced as an adult or a juvenile? That was the big question about one of the teens who was involved in the shooting death of an Albuquerque bartender.
Christopher Rodriguez already pleaded guilty, not to murder, but to lesser charges like aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and burglary. If he’s sentenced as an adult, he would face 31 years.
As a juvenile, he can only stay in juvenile detention for three years.
Rodriguez is facing nine charges for his involvement in the shooting death of Albuquerque bartender, Steven Gerecke.
Prosecutors argued Rodriguez was one of the ringleaders of this group of six teens, the second in charge, behind the admitted triggerman Jeremiah King. Police say they were on a crime spree when King shot and killed Gerecke.
State attorneys told the judge an evaluation of Rodriguez revealed a risk for further violence. They also said Rodriguez continued to rack up reports of violence at the juvenile detention center.
His defense asked the judge to take Rodriguez’s past home life into account, like the fact he saw his father die of a drug overdose when he was 12. His probation officer testified Rodriguez can be rehabilitated and has the tools to do so, but all of those services are voluntary.
While Rodriguez has already taken advantage of some of the services available to him, like therapy, prosecutors stress he could serve all his time without receiving any more.
Four of the other teens charged in Gerecke’s murder also took plea deals that took the actual murder charge off the table.
King pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges. He was sentenced as an adult to 22 years in prison.