Grand jury indicts teen for killing

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A 15-year-old teenager charged with killing his friend last month has been indicted by a Valencia County grand jury and could be sentenced as an adult if he's convicted.

The grand jury indicted Brandon Villalobos on one count of first-degree murder and one count of tampering with evidence.

Thirteenth Judicial District Attorney Lemuel Martinez recently announced that his office has filed a notice of intent to invoke adult sanctions against Villalobos, who is charged with killing 12-year-old Alex Madrid in Meadow Lake.

Now that the case against Villalobos is in district court rather than in children's court, Villalobos will stand trial and could face adult sanctions.

If Villalobos is convicted, he could face a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, Martinez said. If, however, he is convicted and is determined to be amenable to treatment, a judge could sentence him as a juvenile, which would mean he would be incarcerated until the age of 21.

The case has been assigned to 13th Judicial District Court Judge Violet Otero.

Martinez said the decision to prosecute and seek adult sanctions against Villalobos was based on the seriousness of the charges and because of time constraints. Under the state's Children's Code, the DA's office "would have 30 days within which to put everything together and move toward adjudication."

"(This) allows a little more time to complete the investigation, to interview witnesses and allows time for motions or other things that might occur," Martinez said.

Madrid's body was found on Feb. 18 after relatives reported him missing. During their investigation, Villalobos took sheriff's detectives to where Madrid was, lying underneath a discarded mattress.

According to an affidavit for a search warrant, 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.

"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.


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