Colorado judicial computer records only go back to 1999 -- and since then, the youngest person tried as an adult in the state was Christopher Lucero, a thirteen-year-old from Pueblo, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the August 1999 death of Shawn Russell, a 28-year-old from Oklahoma who'd been in town for a bowling tournament. According to a March 2000 Associated Press report that's no longer online, the judge in the case sentenced Lucero "to 25 years in prison but suspended the sentence to send Lucero to the Youthful Offender System, a tougher alternative to the state's juvenile correctional facilities."
The judge reportedly told Lucero, "If you are violent in six months, you are going to prison for 25 years. If you are violent after six years, you are going to prison for 25 years."Back in 1996, Pierre Horton was even younger than Lucero -- just ten -- when he beat an eighteen-month old girl to death with a dog chain. A 2000 Rocky Mountain News piece that's also offline describes Horton as "the youngest person accused of murder in Colorado history." However, he was tried in the juvenile system. The paper notes that he was "declared a delinquent and sentenced to at least two years of probation."
The same Rocky report contained a roundup of other so-called "kid killers," prompted by first-degree murder charges leveled against Lorenso Montoya, fourteen, and sixteen-year-old cousins Nicholas Martinez and Lloyd Martinez in the slaying of Emily Johnson, a schoolteacher who was beaten to death. Here's the grim roster compiled by then-Rocky librarian Carol Kasel:
Nov. 4, 1992 -- Thomas ''T.J.'' White, 15, and Marcus Fernandez, 16, killed state Trooper Lyle Wohlers. White is sentenced to consecutive 16-year terms for accessory to murder. Fernandez is sentenced to life without parole.
Oct. 31, 1993 -- Paul English, 14, shot and killed Carl Banks Jr., 18, in Park Hill, as he was shepherding a group of trick-or-treaters. He was sentenced to 48 years in prison.
Feb. 25, 1995 -- Raymond James Gone, 16, shot and killed Denver police officer Shawn Leinen. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Sept. 28, 1996 -- Jennifer Tombs, 16, shot and killed her baby sitter Latanya Lavallais, 23. She was sentenced to life in prison.
Nov. 15, 1996 -- Antonio Scott Farrell, 17, and Kevin Blankenship, 16, kidnapped Barbara Castor, 76, from a Brighton parking lot, tied her up and left her near abandoned dam near Strasburg. She died of exposure. They were sentenced to life sentences plus 56 years.
Sept. 7, 1998 -- Alexander Pogosyan, 17, and friend Michael Martinez, 18, killed four teenagers and a mother in a Labor Day rampage. Martinez was later slain. Pogosyan was sentenced to five consecutive life terms without parole.
Of course, murderous preteens have been tried and sentenced as adults in other states -- the most notorious among them being Pontiac, Michigan's Nathaniel Abraham, who was just eleven when he killed an eighteen-year-old in 1997. As noted in the Associated Press article linked above, Abraham was sentenced to serve in juvenile detention until his 21st birthday. He was released in January 2007, then handed a four-to-twenty-year sentence in 2009 for an unrelated drug conviction.
Closer to home -- Colorado Springs, to be precise -- a mistrial was just declared in the case of Daniel Guidino, who was fourteen when he was accused of killing his brother and trying to slay his mother. However, that proceeding was assigned to the juvenile system. And then there's the story of John Caudle, who was fourteen when he killed his mother and stepfather, allegedly because he was angry about being told to do his chores. At present, the plan is to try Caudle as an adult, with a trial possibly getting underway in the next few months.
And the Burlington boy thought to have murdered his parents and shot his sister and brother, age five and nine, respectively? He could be breaking new ground in a very controversial way.