A 13-year-old has pleaded guilty to first degree murder for his role in the fatal shooting of a gas service station employee in Texas and is to cooperate in the prosecution of his alleged adult accomplice, according to reports.
The Houston Chronicle reported on how the teen was charged with capital murder over the shooting death of Shamsuddin Sadruddin in Montgomery County, but entered a plea of guilty to first-degree murder. He was subsequently sentenced to serve 15 years in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, officials stated.
Last month prosecutors said they were seeking a prison sentence of up to 40 years for the juvenile. His age prevented him being certified to stand trial as an adult, Montgomery County authorities said.
The Houston Chronicle reported the 13-year-old is expected to testify against 19-year-old Joseph Gutierrez, who is accused of being an accomplice in the gas station killing. Sadruddin, 48, was shot dead during the robbery of a Shell station in the 18300 block of Highway 105 East in Conroe.
“Given that the 13-year-old was not the one who actually shot Mr. Sadruddin and the fact that his cooperation will play a key role in securing a capital murder conviction against the older male, we felt that a 15-year sentence was appropriate,” Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright said in the media report.
Prosecutors said the 13-year-old was not armed during the incident and Gutierrez is believed to have been the sole gunman.
As a term of the agreement worked out with defense lawyers, the teenager waived his right to appeal the sentence and was reported to be cooperative with the authorities. If he reneges on the deal, he will face another punishment hearing and could be sentenced to the full 40-year term, according to Montgomery County officials.
The 13-year-old will serve his sentence in juvenile corrections until just before his 19th birthday when he could be released, placed on parole or ordered to finish his sentence in a state prison.
In Texas the “juvenile correctional system places an emphasis on rehabilitation,” states Texas Juvenile Justice Department. In Texas a juvenile is aged 10 or older but under the age of 17.
If you are 17 or older, you are an adult and are subject to the adult justice system. Children under 10 years of age may not be prosecuted for any criminal activity.