A Wylie 17-year-old accused of killing a high school classmate may be certified as an adult this week at the Collin County Courthouse.
NBC 5 is not reporting the young man’s name because of his age.
Attorneys expect the certification hearing to last days as Judge Cynthia Wheless must hear all the evidence against the young man, much like a probable cause hearing, before reaching her decision.
In March 2014, Garland police said they found this juvenile and another young man in the woods near Firewheel Town Center.
When officers confronted the boys, one officer testified one of the young men replied, "You caught us. I’m sorry."
The officers also testified the boys told them they were "burying a body."
The body was that of 17-year-old Ivan Mejia, a fellow classmate at Wylie East High School.
Mejia and one of the young men accused in his murder had reportedly become rivals because they were dating the same girl.
Officers testified that the crime appeared especially "concerning" because of the apparent level of preparation and premeditation.
One of the juveniles told police they’d been planning the crime for about a week, even digging a grave in the Garland woods for Mejia’s body the day before his death.
Police said the two boys used a texting app called "Kik," an app that allows instant messaging from mobile phone to mobile phone without necessarily having another person’s phone number, to create a fake profile pretending to be Ivan’s off-on girlfriend.
The message told Ivan to meet at Wylie East High School for a “surprise.” Police believe that is where and when Ivan was choked to death by the two young men.
In a later interview, the juvenile who told police he’d just been "helping" his friend with a problem said the other young man had told him he was a fan of the show "Dexter," which features a serial killer. He said his friend told him the show made him believe he could get away with murder.
The young man’s attorney, Edwin King, is arguing his client is immature, a teenager incapable of making adult decisions — even about murder.
"The family of the child that I represent wants to express their heartfelt sorrow and longfelt prayers to the family of the young man who died," King said. "This is a tragedy for all families involved and regardless of the outcome and the difficult decisions the judge makes in this case, there will be no winners."
King is emphasizing that, if convicted, his client needs rehabilitation and counseling, something that’s best offered in the juvenile system.
"You don’t throw children to lions. You don’t," he said. "You don’t take a kid and put him in an adult prison and expect a survival rate of much. That’s the decision to make."
King said if convicted as a juvenile, his client could still be sentenced to up to 40 years for Mejia’s murder. However, he said the juvenile conviction would offer the young man more opportunities for rehabilitation as he matures over the next few years.
The young man King represents was just four days away from his 17th birthday on the day Ivan Mejia was killed. King said the law is the law and be it four days or six months, that shouldn’t matter.
In an earlier interview with NBC 5, Ivan Mejia’s father said he believes the young men should be tried as adults in his son’s case.