LOS LUNAS, N.M. – A 16-year-old New Mexico boy accused of beating a 12-year-old friend to death over an argument about the teen's infant daughter needs a psychological evaluation to determine if he's competent for trial, his defense attorney said this week.
Tom Garde told a judge during a Wednesday hearing in Los Lunas, just south of Albuquerque, that his client needed to be examined before the trial starts and that an evaluation will be scheduled in the next 60 days with a psychologist. The judge will decide later whether the teen is competent for trial.
The teenager has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the February killing of Alex Madrid in an isolated part of Valencia County. The suspect told investigators he hit the Albuquerque boy in self-defense because he tried to stab him with a screwdriver.
The teen beat Madrid following an argument about the infant and then stuffed his body under a mattress in an abandoned field, court documents said.
According to an autopsy report, Madrid suffered puncture wounds to his head; multiple skull and facial fractures; knocked out and broken teeth; bleeding and swelling of his brain; and internal bleeding into his right lung, pancreas, left adrenal gland and outer surfaces of the esophagus.
The Associated Press typically doesn't identify juveniles charged in crimes. He recently turned 16 and is being held on $500,000 cash-only bond.
The state has filed notice that it intends to invoke adult penalties against the teen if he is found guilty. Under New Mexico law, the state can charge minors as adults if they are at least 14.
Valencia County District Attorney Lemuel Martinez said the standard for determining competency is if the defendant understands the charges and penalties he or she is facing, and if that person can assist the attorney in his or her defense.
"We have not known if the defendant would put his competency into question," Martinez said. "Now we know he is, and that will delay the process. How long, we don't know. We will see what comes up in the evaluation and at that time will determine if we will seek our own expert."
Assistant District Attorney Bryan McKay said prosecutors were ready for trial but that the competency issue will cause a delay for at least for two months.