Hearing Continues for Wylie Teen Accused of Murder

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A certification hearing continued Tuesday for a juvenile co-respondent accused of killing 17-year-old classmate Ivan Mejia in March. While a psychologist said the young man showed “remorse”, he testified the teen described “sophisticated” planning of the crime. A Collin County judge could rule by the end of the week to certify the young man as an adult in the case. (Published Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014)

    Testimony continued Tuesday in a certification hearing for a Wylie teenager accused of killing fellow classmate Ivan Mejia in March.

    The teen, now 17, was 16 at the time of the crime.

    A judge could rule to certify the juvenile as an adult instead of trying him in juvenile court.

    Police allege that he and another 16-year-old lured Mejia to an area near Wylie East High School, where they put 17-year-old Mejia in a headlock, blocking his airway until he died.

    Dr. Emily Ogden with the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office performed Mejia’s autopsy. She testified Tuesday Mejia’s official cause of death was “homicidal violence, including strangulation.”

    On the stand for much of Tuesday morning was Dr. Robert Lackey, a psychologist who conducted several evaluating sessions with the juvenile respondent before this week’s hearing.

    Lackey testified the young man had an “average” IQ, “generally did well in school,” despite a drop in his grades over the past school year, and had no disciplinary issues.

    The young man was also involved in yearbook, his church, had refereed soccer and wanted to join the ROTC.

    He also appeared to come from an “appropriate” and fairly stable family background, though his parents are divorced.

    Lackey said during their sessions, the young man appeared “anxious, stressed” and “worried.” He had been diagnosed by a different doctor as having “generalized anxiety disorder.”

    Lackey testified the juvenile was uncomfortable and hesitant to talk about Mejia's murder. However, after a few sessions, Lackey testified the young man claimed “100 percent responsibility” for the crime, adding that “without him, the co-respondent wouldn’t be able to do it.”

    Lackey said the young man told him the planning of the crime took about five days, during which he often referred to the TV show “Dexter,” which features a serial killer.

    The psychologist added that the teen seems “more sophisticated” than a teen around 17-years-old.

    In terms of planning the crime, Lackey added the teen discussed the planning process during their sessions.

    “He did say they weighed out the pros and cons,” Lackey said. “They discussed using a bat, what they were going to gather, where they were going to dig the hole.”

    However, in Lackey’s opinion, while the teen “cognitively and rationally understood” the concept of murder, “emotionally,” he did not appear to understand the consequences of the crime.

    “[He] didn’t have a real-life picture of what this entailed,” Lackey said. “Although he understands rationally there are serious consequences, I don’t think he understands the specifics.”

    While Lackey said the teen expressed “remorse” after the crime, he also told the psychologist he and the other teen knew they were looking at “20 to life” in the planning of the crime if “they didn’t get it right.”

    The decision to certify the juvenile as an adult is up to a Collin County judge this week.

    The family of victim Ivan Mejia has told NBC 5 they would like to see both young men currently in juvenile detention to be tried as adults.

    The juvenile’s attorney, Edwin King, told NBC 5 he doesn’t feel an adult prison is an appropriate place for a 17-year-old, who he said, would benefit from counseling and rehabilitation available in the juvenile justice system.