ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. – A New Mexico judge previously said a young man who killed five family members as a teenager could be released, but the preparation was Thursday again the question of whether he can go.
Children of Judge John Romero found two years ago that Nehemiah Griego had been receptive to treatment for schizoaffective disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder in a juvenile treatment facility and scheduled him for a release on Tuesday his 21st birthday.
But an appeal court last week ordered Romero to another hearing to determine whether Griego has proven that he is prepared to return to society, say the decision of the court was not considering certain testimony presented by prosecutors the first time around.
The new procedures for the court could take weeks, if not months. Meanwhile, prosecutors want the judge to keep Griego in state custody until his case is resolved.
If the judge agrees Thursday, it is not clear where Griego would be held. The case is in juvenile court, but the Children Youth and Families Department has no legal authority to hold Griego than the age of 21.
Romero said earlier this week that he did not believe in similar circumstances, was ever before the court in Albuquerque.
Griego was 15 when authorities said he killed his parents and three young siblings at their home south of Albuquerque in January 2013. In a chilling criminal complaint, a Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies said Griego first shot his mother in her bed as she slept, then his 9-year-old brother, followed by his two sisters, ages 5 and 2.
Hours later, his father back home, and the teenager — who was already standing in a bathroom — attacked him, authorities said. He spent a great part of the day at the Calvary Church, where his father was a pastor.
After the shootings, Griego told a deputy that he had anger problems and had been annoyed with his mother for the execution of the attack, according to the sheriff of the documents.
His lawyers have argued that Griego was abused at home and probably suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of abuse by his father. They have also described Griego the youth as a largely isolated outside of the church.
While in a state juvenile treatment center in Albuquerque, Griego has received hundreds of hours of individual, group and family therapy, according to a statement from his lawyer, Stephen Taylor, sent to The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Griego has also earned a high school diploma and went to community college and vocational classes.
“Nehemiah’s latest psychological evaluation confirms that there is a significant progress and readiness for reintegration into society,” the statement said.
Plaintiffs have argued that Griego should be sentenced as an adult, to say that the crime was premeditated and that he had not expressed remorse.