Nehemiah Griego, the New Mexico teen who pleaded guilty to murdering his entire family — including three siblings — in 2013 will likely face no jail time, as a judge has ruled that he will be tried as a juvenile.
In January 2013, then 15-year-old Nehemiah Griego killed his mother, father, and three siblings — aged 9, 5, and 2 — in what can only be described as premeditated, cold-blooded murder. First Griego shot his mother while she slept in her bed, then after waking his 9-year-old brother to show him their mother’s dead body, Nehemiah shot him as well. After taking pictures of his mother’s and brother’s lifeless bodies, Griego made his way to his sisters’ bedroom, where he shot and killed the two little girls. The father, having not been home at the time, was the last to die, and the gang-member-turned-pastor was ambushed from the bathroom where Nehemiah was hiding, laying-in-wait, when he returned to the family home.
In October of 2015, Nehemiah Griego pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, for the deaths of his parents, and three counts of child abuse resulting in death, for the murders of his three siblings — an act which his attorney said showed he was taking responsibility for the crimes.
For the two years since the shooting, Nehemiah Griego has been receiving treatment at the Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and it’s there that he’ll likely stay until he is released from state custody upon his 21st birthday, since judge John Romero ruled this week that the killer teen will be tried as a juvenile. After hearing from Griego’s defence attorneys, as well as the prosecution, Judge Romero ruled that it is like Nehemiah Griego can be rehabilitated and released in a little over two years — Griego turns 21 in March 2018.
Nehemiah Griego’s attorneys presented a case that detailed the home life Nehemiah had grown up in. Citing a “chaotic environment” that included emotional abuse at the hands of his mother, and physical abuse from his father so severe, that it likely left him with brain damage. Since being at the treatment center, Griego has also been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and learning disabilities, according to the Associated Press. Teachers and psychiatrists at the treatment center say that Nehemiah Griego has undergone a significant change since being placed there, and has made amazing progress. A residential supervisor at the center says Nehemiah has become a role model for other troubled boys, while one of his teachers called him a “thoughtful student”, despite the fact that he has expressed “racist viewpoints” on numerous occasions, and shows an obsession with war, Nazi Germany, and “the notion of absolute power.”
Though the prosecution cited instances of Nehemiah Griego discussing killing people on numerous occasions prior to murdering his family — including one incident when he had brought a screwdriver to a skate park, but the boy he intended to hurt didn’t show, so Nehemiah ultimately decided not to kill him — the judge ruled that Griego could likely be rehabilitated, and so would stand trial as a juvenile, rather than as an adult.
Family members of Nehemiah Griego are split on the judge’s decision. Regina Griego, Nehemiah’s aunt, believes he deserves a second chance, while Demetria Griego, Nehemiah’s step-grandmother, says she believes the judge’s ruling was a mistake and that 18-year-old Nemehiah premeditated the murders of his family, is still dangerous, and should be tried as an adult, report KRQE, and KOAT, respectively. Prosecutor Michelle Pato agreed with Demetria Griego.
“He played with his brother that day knowing he was going to kill him. This was very much planned, very thought out and cruel.”
A forensic psychologist speaking on behalf of the defence recommended that Nehemiah receive five more years of treatment, rather than the two years he will receive if he is released from state custody at the age of 21. Judge Romero did not rule on the continuation of treatment following Griego’s twenty-first birthday.
A final hearing to sentence Nehemiah Griego as a juvenile will be held in three to six weeks.
[Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deptartment, File/AP]