Convicted 14-year-old assassin gets three years - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Convicted 14-year-old assassin gets three years

MIACATLAN, MEXICO (CNN) - A 14-year-old American citizen has been convicted in Mexico of being a cartel hit man, but only received three years for killing four people, prompting a call for changes to the law for sentencing minors.

The trial took less than a week, and after six days of testimony at a juvenile court in Central Mexico, the 14-year-old was found guilty of being an assassin.

"We had 43 witnesses who testified during the hearings. Of course, we weren't only counting on witnesses. The prosecution had plenty of circumstantial evidence in this trial," Chief Prosecutor Jose Manuel Serrano said.

The boy's name is "El Ponchis," or "The Cloak."

In a video taken only hours after he was captured last December, the slim, American citizen, born in San Diego, admitted to being responsible for gruesome murders.

He said he slit the throats of his victims.

The Defense Attorney didn't call any witnesses and the judge gave the harshest sentence he could to a teenager under Mexican law - three years in a correctional facility.

"We carried out the verdict hearing. The sentencing hearing was not scheduled until Friday. However, both the defense and the prosecution asked to proceed with the sentencing right away and that's what the court did," Juan Carlos Castro, a Juvenile Court Spokesman, said.

In addition to the three-year sentence, the judge also fined him the equivalent of $400,000.

 Because he is a minor, the trial was closed to the public and the press and under strict security measures.

"We understand that some relatives have come to visit him, although they're not close relatives. Of course it is important that he stays in touch with his family and we're going to be vigilant about that," Raul Diaz Garcia, the Morelos Human Rights Commissioner, said.

After the verdict and sentence were read, the chief prosecutor in the case said that it is necessary to revisit the law as it applies to juveniles in Mexico, especially for those accused of violent crimes. Three years in a correctional facility for the beheading of four people, the prosecutor said, is simply not punishment enough.

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