A Lubbock teenager whose police were arrested in connection with a fatal shooting on July 4th may face criminal prosecution as an adult after a judge ruled Tuesday afternoon to refer his case to the Adult Criminal Court.
Christopher Hernandez-Constancio, who has been in state custody at the Lubbock County Juvenile Detention Center since July, was taken to the Lubbock County Detention Center where he is charged with murder resulting in a five-year prison term.
The judge's verdict confirmed Hernandez-Constancio, who turned 17 on Saturday, as an adult. Judge William Eichmann said he found a likely cause the then 16-year-old teenager shot an 18-year-old man.
Eichman set the teen's bond at $ 250,000.
"Because of the seriousness of these alleged crimes, the welfare of the community calls for (adult) criminal proceedings," Eichman said during Tuesday's hearing in the 364th District Court.
In submitting the case to the adult criminal courts, the Lubbock District Attorney will decide whether to bring charges to a grand jury.
Lubbock police investigators believe Hernandez-Constancio shot and killed 18-year-old Ezekiel Gonzales during a July 4th party in a house on the 2000 block on 48th Street.
According to a police report, officers responding to a gunshot call found Gonzales, who sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was lying on the floor in front of the house with bloody towels. He was taken to the university hospital where he died.
Investigators identified Hernandez-Constancio as the shooter.
He was arrested on orders to be arrested four days later in the East 8th Street and Oak Avenue area.
Eichman's decision came at the end of a two-day hearing on a motion for the case to be waived by lawyers from the civil division of the district attorney's office, who typically treat juveniles involved in crime.
Hernandez-Constancio's attorney Rod Hobson said he was not surprised by the judge's decision.
"The allegations are pretty serious," he said.
He spoke out against a transfer of jurisdiction, saying the state had not exhausted the legal remedies available under the youth system. This included a specific sentence – if found a felon – that would take the youth to the Texas Department of Justice until he was 18 and would be sent to an adult prison based on his behavior.
Court documents say that a police witness told Hernandez-Constancio that he regretted shooting Gonzales and did not know why he did it.
Lubbock police also arrested Hernandez-Constancio's father, Adrian Hernandez, for his alleged role in preventing police from arresting his son, according to an arrest warrant. A Lubbock County grand jury returned a charge against him in August for a third-degree crime that obstructed the arrest of a criminal. The case was dismissed in November, according to court records.