Teen Killer Sent to Boys School Until He's 21

A 17-year-old murderer was sentenced Tuesday to 31/2 years in the New Mexico Boys School in Springer for his part in last year's slaying of Placitas drug dealer Jerry Lopez, 47.

District Judge George Eichwald sentenced Edgar Rios of Albuquerque to the juvenile prison until he is 21. He also ordered that he receive substance abuse and anger management counseling. Rios was tried as an adult.  

Rios stabbed Lopez 34 times on Sept. 14, 2003, according to trial testimony. His cousin Jaime Ruiz, 18, shot Lopez three times.   

Eichwald called the case a difficult one and said he was swayed by reports that said Rios is amenable to treatment and rehabilitation.  

"Despite what has been presented here, I know the juvenile offenders are not routinely released after one year and I know there are several facilities that will give Mr. Rios the treatment he needs," Eichwald said.  

After the sentencing, Annette Archuleta, Lopez's sister, said Eichwald sent a message of leniency to every "gangbanger in Bernalillo."   

Rios' mother covered her son's face with kisses.  

"We did it! We did it! We did it!" Silvia Valencia cried. "You know I'm here for you. My Edgar Rios, you'll be good. I love you and I'll come and see you." 

A Sandoval County jury convicted Rios of second-degree murder, armed robbery, aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and tampering with evidence.  

Ruiz pleaded guilty in March to one count of second-degree murder and one count of armed robbery. He was sentenced to serve 24 years in prison; Eichwald suspended 14 years of that.  

In closing arguments for Rios' sentencing on Tuesday, assistant district attorney Cheryl Johnston asked Eichwald to sentence Rios to 30 years in prison.  

"The pre-sentencing report recommended that he be sentenced as an adult," Johnston said. "The jury found him guilty. The jurors found his statements completely inconsistent with the facts."   

Rios' attorney, Robert Gorence, countered that the prosecution's arguments didn't remotely reflect state law. 

"At the time of this crime, Edgar was 16 years old. According to the law, the court's primary purpose is the rehabilitation of the child as well as safeguarding public safety," Gorence said. "The presumption during this hearing is that Edgar is amenable to rehabilitation."

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

By Michael Davis
Journal Staff Writer