ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Supreme Court has ruled juveniles can challenge a judge’s ruling to sentence them as adults, even if a plea deal waives their rights to an appeal. The recent ruling stems from a case involving Christopher Rodriguez, one of the teens charged in the 2015 murder of Albuquerque bartender Steven Gerecke.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon and was sentenced as an adult after a judge ruled he was not amenable to treatment. Rodriguez challenged that decision on his amenability, but the Court of Appeals ruled Rodriguez had waived his right to appeal under the terms of his plea deal.
The Supreme Court disagreed, saying waiving amenability hearings would reduce them to “nothing more than window dressing,” pointing to an earlier decision that found a juvenile could not waive their right to the hearings. The case was sent back to the appeals court.