The teen who walked into a southeast New Mexico public library and started shooting — killing two women and injuring four others — officially pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon.
Nathaniel Jouett, 17, pled guilty to all 30 charges as an adult, including capital murder.
“We feel like it was the right thing to do, not only for Nathaniel but for the many victims and people in this community that have been impacted by his actions,” said Stephen Taylor, Jouett’s attorney.
Jouett was 16 when he walked into the Clovis Carver Public Library in August 2017, killing librarians Wanda Walters and Kristina Carter. He also seriously wounded four others, including a 10-year-old boy.
Despite the plea as an adult, Taylor is now questioning if it’s constitutional for him to be automatically sentenced as an adult.
He’s fighting for the sentencing portion of the case to be moved to juvenile court and wants Jouett to at least have the opportunity for an amenability hearing to determine whether or not he’s responsive to treatment.
“If the judge ruled he receive an amenability hearing, then we still would have to go through the amenability hearing, show that he is amenable to treatment, and that he shouldn’t go to the Department of Corrections,” said Ninth Judicial District Attorney Andrea Reeb. “Instead he should go to a facility until he’s of the age of 21. We don’t anticipate that, but sure, that is a possibility.”
“My feeling is that if a child who was 14 is able to get an amenability hearing if they first-degree degree murder, then a child who is 15, 16, and 17 should have that equal opportunity to have a hearing,” said Taylor.
Taylor says Jouett decided to take the plea to lessen the pain and suffering of the victims and their families, so they wouldn’t have to travel all the way to Roswell and testify during a month-long trial.
Jouett’s next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 13. That’s when the judge will begin to consider an amenability hearing.