A 16-year-old murder suspect faces a 6- to 25-year prison sentence under a plea deal his attorney submitted to the judge despite the objections of the victim’s family, as reported on a July 13 report from The Gazette. The teen pleaded guilty to second-degree murder committed in the “heat of passion” in a November 21 shooting of another teen when a fight broke out at a house party at the suspect’s home. In Colorado, a crime committed in the heat of passion is one where the killer was provoked. In this case, the teen got into a fight with the victim when the teen’s friend overheard the victim and another friend making “gay” remarks about the party.
The plea deal offers the presiding judge two sentencing options. The first option is a 10- to 25-year sentence to be served at the Department of Corrections. The second option is a six-year maximum sentence to be served in the Youthful Offender System and a suspended sentence of up to 32 years, the latter of which would be dismissed if the teen stays out of trouble during the six-year term. The prosecuting attorney is pushing for the 25-year maximum. The plea deal angered the victim’s family, who considered it too lenient a punishment.
The teenager in this case is represented by a Colorado criminal defense attorney who is doing all he can to get his client a reduced sentence in light of the serious charges the teen faces. The attorney may be sorry for the loss suffered by the victim’s family and sympathetic to their grief, but his first and foremost responsibility is to his client and making sure his client receives a fair trial and as fair a sentence as possible. An experienced Castle Rock criminal defense attorney not only works to lighten his clients’ sentences, he also prepares them for the worst, because in the end it is the judge who has the final say.