SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court is upholding the sentencing of a man who, as a teen, killed three members of a family with a large pickax. The high court announced in a news release Monday that it determined Nicholas Ortiz’s constitutional rights were not violated because he was sentenced as an adult for three first-degree murder convictions.
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Ortiz’s attorneys argued that since he was 16 at the time of the crimes, Ortiz should have had an “amenability hearing” to see if he was open to some sort of juvenile rehabilitation. But the court argued an amenability hearing is only mandated for minors convicted of second-degree murder.
Ortiz was sentenced to 25 years in 2019 for three counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary. Authorities say Ortiz killed Lloyd Ortiz, Dixie Ortiz and their son, Steven Ortiz, at their El Rancho home in 2011 during a robbery attempt. Ortiz was not related to the victims but met them when he stayed with the couple’s adult daughter for several months.