Teen convicted of deadly Clovis library shooting in court for hearing

New Mexico

The New Mexico teen who opened fire in the Clovis library killing two people and injuring four others was in court Tuesday as his attorney fought to have him sentenced as a juvenile.

Nathaniel Jouett, now 17 years old, pleaded guilty last month in adult court to all 30 charges related to the mass shooting, but his attorney argues automatically sentencing him as an adult is unconstitutional.

“We heard today from the scientific evidence, children who are in their teens are rehabilitative, right…they can be rehabilitated and brought back to some kind of normalcy,โ€ said Stephen Taylor, Jouett’s lawyer.

Jouett was 16 when he opened fire at the Clovis Carver Public Library in August 2017, killing librarians Kristina Carter and Wanda Walters. Four others were also seriously wounded, including a 10-year-old boy.

Tuesday, Jouett’s attorneys fought to have the case moved to juvenile court for sentencing, arguing he’s entitled to what’s called an amenability hearing — a hearing to determine if he’s amenable to treatment.

His attorney called a clinical psychologist to testify to support the argument, but the District Attorney’s office argued against it.

“The adolescent brain is not likely to think about the consequences, is more likely to see something good in that horrible act,โ€ said Dr. Antoinette Kavanaugh, a forensic clinical psychologist.

โ€œThe legislature is really the body of law that should be making these decisions,โ€ said Andrea Reeb, the Ninth Judicial District Attorney.

Under the Serious Youthful Offender Act in New Mexico, teens who are 15 to 17 do not have the automatic right to an amenability hearing.

Jouett’s attorney argues that evidence shows the mind of a 16-year-old is very similar to that of a 14-year-old, who does have that right. 

The judge hopes to have a decision within 30 days.

Right now, sentencing has is set for Feb. 11. That could change if the amenability hearing is granted.

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