Teen murders man. Judge sentences him to only 30 days youth detention with no explanation.

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Albuquerque, New Mexico – It’s a mind-blowing sentence for a horrific crime.

A botched robbery attempt that escalated into a murder in Albuquerque, New Mexico, back in 2018 has left people wondering what “justice” even means.

That’s because the teen who murdered the victim has been sentenced to just 30 days in youth detention.

The sentencing of juveniles is a topic that can spawn controversial opinions when examined; as some experts claim that jailing of youth has no positive effect whereas those seeking justice rightfully cite that a proper balancing act must be achieved between justice for victims and crimes committed by minors.

Yet, no matter where you stand on the topic, nearly everyone is perplexed by the judge’s recent actions on this case.

Just this past Thursday, District Court Judge Cristina Jaramillo sentenced Santiago Armijo to 30 days after entering a plea of guilty toward second-degree murder, unlawful possession of a handgun, conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence, tampering with evidence, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Also, it’s not exactly a jail Armijo is going to, but rather a therapy and treatment center called the Youth Diagnostic and Development Center. According to the judge, she believes that this admitted murderer can be rehabilitated in a mere thirty days.

According to police, on March 1st, 2018, Santiago Armijo and his co-defendant, Jeremiah del la Pena, who were both 15-years-old at the time, concocted a scheme to rob an individual who they beckoned to a nearby park in Albuquerque.

They planned a meeting between them and Larry Desantiago, who was 25 at the time, at Tower Pond Park under the guise that they intended to buy drug related paraphernalia from him. At some point during the interaction, Armijo used a gun that was provided by del la Pena to shoot Desantiago in the chest.

The duo then took off toward a nearby neighborhood, where they attempted to hide the jackets they were wearing at the time of the murder.

When they were later spotted by an Albuquerque police officer, the two of them were both taken into custody.

While police were interviewing the two, the men gave later-debunked stories about what led to the shooting.

One scenario offered was that the teens had agreed to buy paraphernalia from Desantiago, but claimed they ran away from him. They claimed that Desantiago attempted to drive away with them while they were inside his vehicle, but managed to exit the vehicle and begin fleeing on foot.

The prosecutors, however, pieced together what really happened that evening; a failed robbery attempt that turned into a murder.

When it came time for the sentencing of Santiago Armijo, prosecutors requested that District Court Judge Cristina Jaramillo impose the maximum penalty for what Armijo pleaded guilty to.

Albeit, the maximum penalty isn’t an ideal embodiment of justice for murder, but it would have seen the teen in prison for at least four years until he turned 21.

Still, the judge opted for 30 days of a rehabilitation program, and offered zero additional commentary on the rationale behind it.

The prosecution has asked the courts to reconsider the outcome of the doled-out sentencing, but they’re also exploring the possibility of filing an appeal as well.

Armijo co-defendant, de la Pena, was not charged with anything relate to the actual murder of Desantiago.

His plea was entered earlier this year and is expected to be sentenced in January of next year.

It’s alarming to contemplate that a sitting judge would even come close to pondering this kind of sentence, let alone actually deliver it.

It’s one thing when courts hands are tied based upon maximums that can be imposed when dealing with juveniles and alleged atrocities.

Yet, this wasn’t a matter of an inability to impose more time; but an unwillingness to seek a maximum sentence, that in its current state of four years, would barely atone for a murder.

These ludicrous sentences seem to be happening more and more frequently.

Look what what happened in Jefferson, Indiana this week, for example.

Judge Steven Fleece of Indiana ultimately found 81-year-old Oscar Kays guilty during his trial that was held in November of this year.

On Thursday this week, Judge Fleece sentenced Kays to 25 years on “home incarceration.” Judge Fleece called it “mercy and justice.”

The judge cited Kays mental illness as a reason for mercy as Kays is suffering from diagnosed dementia.

The crime Kays was found guilty of?

Attempted murder of an Indiana State Trooper.

Indiana State Police Trooper Evans_WLKY News_ Screen Shot
Indiana State Police Trooper Evans_WLKY News_ Screen Shot

In December of 2017 Indiana State Trooper Morgenn Evans pulled a suspected intoxicated driver over at West Park Place and Jefferson Street. The driver in question was Oscar Kays. At some point during the stop, Trooper Evans had Kays step out of his vehicle and was attempting to place him in custody when Kays began to resist.

 

Kays and Trooper Evans fought, and during the altercation Kays was able to break free and pull a .22 caliber handgun on the trooper. Kays fired one shot, striking Trooper Evans in the head.

Kays then fled the scene.

Trooper Evans+ Gunshot Injury_WLKY News Screen Shot
Trooper Evans+ Gunshot Injury_WLKY News Screen Shot

 

Trooper Evans, having returned fire, pursued Kays – not knowing at the time that the bullet had nearly taken his life. He followed Kays to his home. 

With the assistance of several other police agencies, Kays was placed under arrest, after threatening police with a “long gun” that he exited the residence with twice before being taken into custody. At the time of his arrest Kays was 79-years-old.

 

Kays, who was held on a $1 million dollar bond, served a year and a half in the Clark County jail before he was released this past May on home incarceration. During his trial in November, several people testified – including Trooper Evans.

According to the Washington Times Herald, during his testimony Trooper Evans recounted the incident and explained “that what Kays had done was senseless, and that if he had complied during the traffic stop, and there had found probable cause for an OWI arrest, Kays would be facing a misdemeanor and likely be out of jail in a few hours, not facing a level 1 felony for shooting a police officer.”

Also, during his testimony Trooper Evans stated that he forgave Kays for his actions, and then thanked him for the learning experience he provided him.

However, he did go on to explain that he suffers from survivor’s guilt when he recounts in his head the incident that led to him being shot in the head that night. He stated that he struggles with the knowledge that he survived that night when so many other officers have lost their lives in this, 

“endless, glamourless and thankless job.”

Trooper Evans did tell the judge that if he chose not to give Kays a sentence that was served within the Department of Corrections it would be a “slap in the face” to him and to other officers.

 

During his trial, Kays defense attorney Brian Butler argued that the judge needed to take his clients health into consideration when handing down his sentencing ruling. The Herald reported that the defense attorney cited information from the bench trial that included details of Kays current state of health including that he “has dementia and had suffered visual hallucinations and falling spells while in jail; he was also hospitalized for blood sugar spikes more than once.”

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Teen murders man. Judge sentences him to only 30 days youth detention with no explanation.

 

A friend of Kays testified and stated, “I think Oscar is one great person; he’d do anything for you,” the friend said. “I think he just snapped that night and I don’t know why.”

Attorney Butler told the judge, “It [the dementia] really does explain why an 80-year-old man who never had any problems… would react in the way he reacted,” Butler said.

He cited that Kays had no prior criminal history before that incident.

Attorney Butler_WHAS 11 News_ Screen Shot
Attorney Butler_WHAS 11 News_ Screen Shot

 

In a ruling that shocked the prosecution, the community and the local media Judge Fleece handed down the sentence of 25 years on house arrest.

“Mr. Kays, to not send you to prison is extraordinary,” Fleece stated to Kays in the courtroom. “It’s not something I ever thought I’d do.” He also told Trooper Evans he meant no disrespect from his decision. 

When Kays left the courtroom with his family, including a daughter who has been caring for her father since his release in May, told reporters that he felt like he got a “raw deal” and that he was only “acting in self-defense that day”.

Attorney Butler points to this as a prime example of what the dementia has done to Kays. Butler explained that he doesn’t see this sentence as any slight against police officers, but rather mercy for mental illness.

Butler explained to reporters outside the courtroom.

Attorney Butler_WHAS 11 News_ Screen Shot
Attorney Butler_WHAS 11 News_ Screen Shot

“Obviously we’re very pleased that the judge recognized that Mr. Kays has significant mental health issues and that he showed mercy, and was going to give him the opportunity to live his life out at home. I have the greatest respect for police, but every case is different,” he said.

“This is, by the court’s own experts, someone who is mentally ill and that reacted in a way that was part of his mental illness. Thank God the trooper is okay. But I don’t think it speaks to any greater scenario. This is a once-in-a-lifetime scenario.”

Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull did not share the same sentiment as Butler. He told reporters that he was disappointed in the sentence that was handed down.

“It’s my belief as the prosecutor that whether you’re 23 or 103, when you attempt to murder a police officer, that ought to result in a prison sentence,” Mull said. “Prison is the appropriate sentence regardless of your age or your mental condition.”
Under the terms of his house arrest Kays must adhere to not being allowed to drive or possess a firearm, and he will be unable to go anywhere other than doctors’ appointments.

Proecutor Mull_WHAS 11 News_Screen Shot
Prosecutor Mull_WHAS 11 News_Screen Shot

 

At this time there has been no public response from Trooper Evans or the Indiana State Police regarding the sentencing.

In our opinion, if you want to stop this war on our law enforcement officers, this is NOT the way to go about it! 

 


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