On Tuesday, an Albuquerque judge spent hours going through arguments on how much time in prison Nehemiah Griego should receive for killing his family. Almost seven years ago, this young man from South Valley killed with a rifle his three siblings and parents. And Alisa Hart, State District Court Judge, sentenced him to 120 years for that gruesome crime.
Now, at his second sentencing hearing, the stakes were higher. A judge from the Children’s Court previously decided that Griego was eligible and could be treated for a juvenile sentence, which means he could not remain imprisoned after he turned 21.
However, 11 days before he was about to be released, the new hearing was ordered by the Court of Appeals, after finding that the judge had abused his discretion. Just a few days into the first hearing, the judge had withdrawn from the case, which was then handed over to judge Hart. And, ultimately, Griego was convicted as an adult.
First Hearing in 2013
Mari Martinez, the prosecutor, said that Nehemiah Griego was plotting to kill the mother, three children unable to defend themselves, and the father, whose back was turned. She also said that the crimes of this man showed irreparable corruption and that the lack of remorse from his part confirmed that.
Steven Taylor, the defense lawyer, read a letter from his other underage client, Nathaniel Jouett, who killed two persons in Clovis library and is serving his prison sentence. As Jouett wrote — violence, drugs, and negativity were constantly around him, and he had to try to rehabilitate on his own.
After that, Taylor stated that there was a lack of mental health services and treatment and claimed that Griego had shown signs that he could be rehabilitated. So he urged the judge to find a solution.
He asked the court to give Nehemiah a chance for rehabilitation and treatment he needed as he had already shown the capacity for that.
Recounting the Events on the Night of the Murder
During this hearing, judge Hart recollected the events of the unfortunate night in the Griegos’ home. On January 18, 2013, Nehemiah waited for Sarah Griego to fall asleep.
Hart wrote that Griego took from the closet the 22 caliber rifle, pulled the trigger, and shot his mother in the face. He shot once again to make sure she was dead.
His brother, 9-year-old Zephaniah, was sleeping next to Sarah Griego, his mother. Nehemiah awakened him, said his mother was dead, and turned Sarah’s face for Zephaniah to see before he shot the boy in the head. As court documents state, the boy was trying to clean the face of his mother with a tissue.
Griego’s little sisters were down the hall, in a room crying, and as he told detectives, he completely turned off his conscience and shot them both. According to Hart’s timeline, he then waited for his father to come back from work for five hours. Meanwhile, he drank an energy drink, played with the family dog, and practiced shooting with AR-15, which is the rifle he used to kill Greg Griego, his father.
When he saw Greg’s truck pulling up, he went to the downstairs bathroom to hide. When his father came into the house and passed the bathroom, Griego stepped out and shot him four or five times in the back.
Statement of Eric Griego
Father of the sentenced, Greg Griego, was part of one California gang, and he turned to Christianity once prison sentence was possible for him. He later became a pastor. Uncle of convicted, Eric Griego, brought up that fact on the second hearing that occurred on Tuesday.
Considering the troubled past of his brother, the way he redeemed himself when many had already written him off, Erick said that he believed that Greg wouldn’t have wanted a life-prison sentence for his son. He asked that the judge consider some treatment with high supervision for his nephew.
Eric Griego concluded there was no victory for his family because they’d lost five members already. He said that they would lose another one if the prosecution managed to get a life sentence.