Accused killer appears in court; denies allegations

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Standing next to his attorney and parents, 15-year-old Brandon Villalobos, who is charged with killing his 12-year-old friend, Alex Madrid, was silent with his head down during his first court appearance Thursday.

Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal: Fifteen-year-old Brandon Villalobos, right, appears in District Court Judge William Sanchez’s courtroom for a detention hearing on Thursday. The teen is accused of killing 12-year-old Alex Madrid. Standing with the accused killer are, from left, his parents Arnulfo and Loretta Villalobos, and his attorney Cindy Mercer.

Villalobos is charged with first-degree murder and one count of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony.

During Thursday’s hearing, Villalobos’ attorney, Cindy Mercer, denied the allegations on behalf of her client. When District Judge William Sanchez asked if the teenager understood the charges and his rights, Mercer said he did not.

“Due to his low mental functioning, I don’t believe he understands the charges or his rights,” Mercer told Sanchez.

The Los Lunas attorney asked that her client be released on house arrest and be monitored by GPS. But Assistant District Attorney Bryan McKay asked that Villalobos be detained until further hearings due to him being a “danger to himself or others.”

Sanchez agreed and ordered that the teen be held in the Albuquerque Juvenile Detention Center.

Thirteenth Judicial District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said he is still waiting for the Valencia County Sheriff’s Office to conclude its investigation and send his office all of their information before making the decision whether to try Villalobos as an adult. Martinez said his office has 10 days to make a decision, and then another 10 days to take the case in front of a grand jury.

According to the affidavit for a search warrant, Madrid was reported missing on Tuesday by his aunt, who told deputies that she allowed Madrid to visit and spend the night before at Villalobos’ house in Meadow Lake. When his aunt went to Villalobos’ house to pick up her nephew the next day, he wasn’t there.

When deputies spoke with the teenager and asked where Madrid was, Villalobos initially told investigators that he and Madrid had went to an abandoned mobile home to vandalize it, according to court documents.

“Brandon stated while at the mobile home, they were approached by three male subjects wanting to fight them for being on their property,” the affidavit states. “Brandon stated one of the male subjects attempted to hit him, but he was able to move out of the way and struck the male subject on the head with a crow bar.”

Villalobos said he was able to run away and that when he looked back, he didn’t see Madrid. When the deputies told the teen that they didn’t believe his story and that they needed to find Madrid, Villalobos “stated that he knew where Alex was at and directed us to the location.”

The teen, according to the affidavit, took the deputies to an open field off Manzano View Road, where they discovered Madrid under a discarded mattress.

Upon further questioning at the sheriff’s department, Villalobos told detectives “You want the truth; I only hit (Madrid) once.” He said that after playing video games for the majority of the day, the two decided to go for a walk, the affidavit says.

“As they were walking, Brandon stated that he and Alex were engaged in a verbal argument over Alex talking about Brandon’s daughter. Brandon stated Alex attempted to stab him with a yellow handled screwdriver and Brandon defended himself striking Alex on the left side of his face near his eye.”

According to the affidavit, after Madrid fell to the ground, Villalobos picked him up, placed him under the mattress and covered up his body.

Court records revealed that Villalobos isn’t a stranger to law enforcement. In 2010, he was charged with battery, a charge that was eventually dismissed after completing 24-hours of community service and had not had any referrals to the Juvenile Probation Department for six months.

But a year later, Villalobos was once again charged with a similar crime. The court ordered that Villalobos be placed on probation and that his parents, Loretta and Arnulfo Villalobos be ordered to monitor his activities.

He was charged a third time for a November 2011 incident in which he was accused of public affray for allegedly engaging “in any fight or use any blows or violence toward one or more persons in an angry or quarrelsome manner in any public place, to the disturbance of others …,” according to a petition filed in district court.

That case, according to court records, was dismissed after a forensic evaluation found that Villalobos was not competent to stand trial.

Madrid’s mother, Rebecca Madrid, said after Thursday’s hearing that her son had been friends with Villalobos off and on for about three years. She said when she realized her son was missing, she had a feeling Villalobos had killed him.

“I already knew it was Brandon that did that to my son,” Madrid said. “My instincts are never wrong. He’s already hit my son before, and that’s when I told my son to stay away from him.”


-- Email the author at cgarcia@news-bulletin.com.