Thursday, November 6, 2003
The Routt County Health and Human Services Department said it wants the courts to go through an interstate agreement before allowing a 16-year-old convicted of murder to live in Routt County.
A guardianship hearing for Victor Manual Cordova Jr., who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2000, was heard in District Court on Thursday and continues to Dec. 2.
Routt County residents Godelebo and Minerva Loya are seeking guardianship of their nephew, Cordova, who is in a New Mexico youth correctional facility.
At Thursday's hearing, attorney Polly St. James, representing Routt County, said the guardianship transfer has to go through interstate agreements between New Mexico and Colorado.
If compact agreements are followed, St. James said, Cordova would remain under the New Mexico court's jurisdiction. If the guardianship does not work out, he would be the financial responsibility of the state of New Mexico, not Colorado, St. James said.
"We don't think it is in Victor's best interest to have no court supervision at all, based on the fact he has been incarcerated for four years," St. James said.
In 2000, Cordova pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of schoolmate Aracely Tena on Nov. 19, 1999, in New Mexico's Deming Middle School. He was 13 at the time of the shooting.
He also pleaded guilty to 10 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 Dec. 19 if guardianship is granted.
At that time, 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.
"Everybody agrees that Victor should be released in December and should reside with his uncle, Mr. Loya. The only issue is how to get there from here," Loya's attorney James Grady said Thursday.
If guardianship is not granted by Dec. 19, Grady said Cordova could face another year in the New Mexico correctional facility. In 2002, his stay in state custody was extended for a year after it was decided that he should not live with his father.
If the Loyas are granted guardianship and Cordova is released from New Mexico's custody, the interstate agreement with Colorado would no longer apply, St. James said, unless Cordova is put on parole. But, Cordova was not considered for parole because he has served his full sentence.
Another option, St. James said, would be for New Mexico to file a Dependent and Neglected Child case, which would allow Cordova to remain in New Mexico's jurisdiction and for an interstate agreement to take place.
"We are not trying to delay the process and have him stay another year when the people who have worked with him say he has served long enough," St. James said.