ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico 18-year-old who authorities say killed his parents and three younger siblings appeared to wipe his eyes as he sat in a courtroom Tuesday and listened to a sheriff's deputy describe how investigators found his 5- and 2-year-old sisters in their beds after the shooting.
The apparent sign of emotion from Nehemiah Griego came in contrast to testimony from sheriff's deputies and his former girlfriend's grandmother who described his demeanor as matter of fact after the January 2013 shooting.
A security official at the Albuquerque megachurch where Griego's father had been a pastor said the teenager spent much of the day after the slayings wandering the campus before disclosing his family had been killed.
"He sat there very politely ... just answering factual questions," said Joan White, the grandmother of Griego's girlfriend at the time of the shooting, who recalled her interactions with the boy.
A hearing is underway this week to determine whether Griego should be sentenced as a juvenile or an adult in the deaths of his parents, Greg and Sarah Griego, and three young siblings — Zephaniah, Jael and Angelina.
Bernalillo County Sheriff's Deputy Miguel Rivas, who testified Tuesday, recalled taking numerous photos and collecting evidence at the Griegos' home south of Albuquerque the night authorities discovered the bodies of the family members inside.
Griego pleaded guilty in October to the slayings south of Albuquerque. A judge is expected to determine Griego's sentencing in February.
The teen's public defenders have said his sentencing terms could range from probation to three life sentences plus 30 years if he is sentenced as an adult. If he's sentenced as a juvenile, he would theoretically remain in the custody of the state Children, Youth and Families Department until he is 21.
The defense attorneys are expected to begin calling witnesses, including one of Griego's older sisters, to the stand as early as Wednesday.
Defense attorneys argue Griego — who they say was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder after his arrest — is amenable to treatment and can be rehabilitated.
In the span of 18 months, he has made significant progress at a state psychiatric treatment center for juveniles, public defender Stephen Taylor said.