Judge allows Hilburn to move while awaiting trial, which is set for May

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A boy accused of killing his father in Belen in 2009 will be allowed to move out of state while he awaits trial, a judge ruled on Thursday.

District Court Judge George Eichwald ruled Benjamin Hilburn, 14, will be allowed to move with his family to Elk City, Okla., while he awaits his trial, which is scheduled to be held in May.

Hilburn is accused of shooting and killing his father, 42-year-old Byron Hilburn, in their Belen home. The boy was 10 years old at the time of the incident.

"I am very happy," said William J. Cooley, Hilburn's defense attorney, about the judge's decision. "I'm just happy to bring a little normalcy to the family."

Cooley said the boy will be required to meet with his probation officer once a week by phone and in person once a month.

He said "it's hard to tell" whether the trial will start as scheduled. Cooley said the defense plans to file additional motions before the trial date.

Thirteenth Judicial District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said prosecutors argued "strenuously" to keep Hilburn in the state of New Mexico.

In the last few years, both the prosecution and defense have made numerous motions from considering a change of venue to a decision whether or not to put his younger sister, Emily, on the stand. A motion considering a change of venue for the case was denied.

Last year, Pro-Tem District Court Judge Tommy Jewell ruled the girl is not fit to testify.

Dr. Elizabeth Penland, a forensic child psychologist, testified that Emily Hilburn is not fit to testify because the girl has experienced "psychotic and dissociative episodes," and would re-experience trauma if she were to testify.

Penland completed a competency evaluation of the girl in April 2012.

Penland testified that the girl told her monsters would charge at her face, and that at one point, she saw an invisible boy who was sitting in her bedroom. She said the girl tried to jump out of a three-story window of an apartment complex.

Martinez said prosecutors are going to work to move the adjudication process along.

"It's been quite a while since the act occurred," Martinez said. "We just want to move it forward."


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