Accused Wylie Teen’s Attorney Presses Witnesses About Teen’s Maturity, Sophistication

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police say two 16-year-old boys accused of killing a high school classmate are being held on murder charges in Collin County. They were in court for their first hearing on formal charges Monday afternoon. (Photo of victim Ivan Mejia)

    Testimony continued for a third day in a hearing for a Wylie teen, one of two young men accused of killing fellow Wylie East High School classmate Ivan Mejia, in March.

    NBC 5 is not naming the juvenile co-respondent because of his age.

    Both accused juveniles were 16 at the time of the crime. This co-respondent has since turned 17.

    The certification is a presentation of evidence before Collin County Judge Cynthia Wheless, after which the judge will decide whether to certify the teen as an adult in the judicial system, or to keep his case on the juvenile side.

    If the young man were to be tried as a juvenile, he would still face up to 40 years behind bars.

    The state rested its case on Tuesday, after two full days of testimony.

    The most emotional testimony came from the victim’s mother, Ana Garibaldo.

    Through tears, she told the judge her family sometimes still feels like they are “waiting” for 17-year-old Ivan to come home. Through a Spanish interpreter, she testified she believes this crime was an “adult” one, “because it was planned out.”

    Several witnesses for the state have testified how rare it is for a juvenile murder to be premeditated.

    According to Wylie Police, the co-respondents planned the killing Ivan Mejia for days, taking inspiration from the television show Dexter, even digging a grave the day before.

    Police believe the motive was a conflict over a girl Mejia and one the teens had both dated.

    However, the teen’s attorney Edwin King is arguing the teen needs to be offered rehabilitation programs offered by the juvenile system, but not the adult prison system.

    King called Dr. Paul Andrews, a psychologist, to testify on Wednesday.

    Dr. Andrews, who has evaluated the teen, told the judge in his opinion, the teen believed he was protecting a girl he cared about from Mejia, who the teen considered a “bad person”.

    Dr. Andrews added he believes the teen can be rehabilitated and would benefit from juvenile programs in place.

    In his opinion, the teen should not be certified and face the adult justice system.

    King also called a variety of witnesses who know the teen personally, from a youth pastor at his Wylie church, to several teachers and a coach at Wylie East High School.

    All of the witnesses described the teen as “polite”; some said he was “reserved.”

    When pressed by King if the teen is “sophisticated and mature”, like an adult, the majority answered “no”, likening the young man to a “normal 16-year-old.”

    Other witnesses, correctional officers in the Collin County juvenile system, testified the teen has been well-behaved, even helpful, during his detainment in juvenile facilities.

    Testimony will likely conclude on Thursday.

    The judge has not discussed a timeline for making her decision about certification.