Convicted of second-degree murder at 13 years old, DeAngelo Montoya faces a maximum of eight years in state custody; less than a quarter of the time an adult would face for the same acts.
And his time will most likely be spent at a facility designed to rehabilitate youth, rather than just incarcerate and punish.
A Roosevelt County jury convicted Montoya on Friday night on charges of second-degree murder, aggravated burglary, two counts of tampering with evidence and larceny.
Prosecutors said July 22, 2010, he shot 21-year-old Angel Vale three times with a gun he had stolen from her home after she stumbled upon him in her own yard.
The jury’s verdict was reached after almost four hours of deliberations.
Under state statute the maximum penalty for second-degree murder is 15 years, nine years for aggravated burglary and two counts of tampering with evidence would have maximum sentences of up to 18 years imprisonment.
Under the children’s code, because Montoya was younger than 14 when the act occurred, it is classified as an act by a delinquent child.
“The most they could give him under the juvenile system is a couple of years,” said Enrique Knell, spokesman for the state’s Children Youth and Families Department.
While he could be confined until age 21, Knell said one to two years is more likely, depending on the court’s discretion.
The court is also able to consider, among other things, his relationships with his parents and siblings, his adjustment at home, in school and in the community, his mental and physical health, maturity and history of trauma.
During his confinement he would be housed either at the Youth Diagnostic Development Center (YDDC) in Albuquerque or the John P. Center in Las Cruces, both long-term youth holding facilities.
Knell said while youth are in custody of CYFD they go to school and have access to behavioral health treatment and a slew of other resources designed to help them reintegrate into society.
“One of the things with the juvenile system is rehabilitation. We know that at some point they’re going to get out and one of the goals is to make sure we don’t simply graduate them to the adult system,” he said.
Knell said there have been other cases in New Mexico where children under 14 were accused and or convicted of murder.
One case to receive national attention was in Aug. 2009, police said 10-year-old Benjamin Hilburn of Belen shot and killed his father because the boy was being punished.
That case is still ongoing with the courts still trying to determine if Hilburn is competent to participate in a murder trial.
Hilburn, as in the case of Montoya, faces a maximum sentence of commitment up to age 21.