Cordova released here

New Mexico youth pleaded guilty to 1999 school shooting

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A 16-year-old boy who pleaded guilty to the 1999 murder of a schoolmate in New Mexico has been released to his relatives in Routt County.

An interstate compact that Routt County Health and Human Services had said in court would be important to the release was granted in early December, and according to court documents, the boy has been released to his aunt and uncle under that compact.

A guardianship hearing for Victor Manual Cordova, Jr., was scheduled to be continued until Thursday, but because appropriate documents were received, the hearing was vacated.

Cordova has graduated from high school, said New Mexico Public Defender Alan Wagman.

While living with Godelebo and Minerva Loya in rural Routt County, Wagman said, it's likely that Cordova will work on their ranch and could attend classes at Colorado Mountain College.

The interstate agreement makes New Mexico financially responsible if the transfer does not work, one reason the Routt County Health and Human Services Department said in earlier hearings that the transfer had to go through interstate agreements between New Mexico and Colorado.

Attorney Polly St. James, representing Routt County, said after a hearing earlier this month that she could not comment on the specific case, but could verify that moving children from one state to another through the interstate compact provides protection for the state accepting the child.

Through interstate compacts, the state accepting the child has the option to reject the placement, she said.

The compact also assigns financial responsibility to the state from which the child comes, as St. James noted during an earlier hearing.

The plan is to monitor the placement and then guardianship can be granted to the Loyas.

"It is anticipated that if everything goes smoothly under the interstate compact for a few months, the Department of Human Services will close the interstate compact case and at that time, the guardianship requested herein should be granted," according to the motion to vacate the Thursday hearing.

That motion was submitted to the court Friday by Cordova's attorney, James Grady.

The hearing vacation was requested because attorneys had agreed that if Cordova was released under an interstate compact, the hearing would not be necessary, according to that Dec. 12 motion.

In 2000, Cordova pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of schoolmate Araceli Tena on Nov. 19, 1999, in New Mexico's Deming Middle School.

He also pleaded guilt to 10 other counts of aggravated assault with a .22-caliber pistol.

On Oct. 9, the Juvenile Court in New Mexico ordered that Cordova be released from state custody no later than Friday if guardianship is granted. Cordova has been in a New Mexico correctional facility.

At the October hearing, New Mexico Sixth District Judge V. Lee Vesely said the risk of placing Cordova at the Albuquerque Boys Reintegration Center posed a greater risk than releasing him to the Loyas.


-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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