The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Jouett staying at Curry jail for now


April 7, 2018

Tony Bullocks

Nathaniel Jouett listens to his lawyer at Friday's hearing.

CLOVIS — With the juvenile Nathaniel Jouett's mental health needs and how best to address them still in question, the court approved Friday a motion for pre-trial detention on the alleged library shooter following a full day of emotional testimony.

5th Judicial District Judge James Hudson, who will preside over the month-long trial scheduled for next year in Roswell, heard arguments in Curry County for two overlapping and seemingly opposing motions: the first from defense attorney Stephen Taylor to have Jouett moved to an adolescent treatment facility in Albuquerque, and another from District Attorney Andrea Reeb to keep him in the Curry County Juvenile Detention Center, where he has remained since the deadly Aug. 28 shooting at the Clovis-Carver Public Library.

Hudson said Friday evening that he believed the state met its burden of proving Jouett was a danger to the community and that no conditions of release would mitigate that potential for danger, noting the only such release condition proposed that day was his transfer to the residential facility out of town.

He said his ruling on Taylor's motion to have Jouett, now 17, transferred to the Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center would require "more than I can do in the time available this evening" but said he would issue a decision on Monday.

Where exactly that leaves things during the weekend was unclear to both Reeb and Taylor.

"Your guess is as good as mine," Taylor told The News. "(Hudson) may be coming up with some findings that will give us some guidance as to what needs to take place in terms of access to treatment for Nathaniel."

He declined further comment until more is known next week.

Reeb said she anticipated Hudson would deny Taylor's motion, but "wasn't going to put the cart ahead of the horse.

"I'm a little gray on that area and how the courts will handle that if they do (approve Taylor's motion)," she told The News. "We're hoping that that doesn't happen and he's evaluated locally. ... I'm hoping that he wont be transported to Sequoyah and it's a non-issue."

That was the same hope expressed many times over Friday afternoon during impact statements by some of the victims and others affected by the summer shooting, who told Hudson it would stunt their healing and put them ill at ease for the accused killer to be transferred to a facility that could not guarantee his confinement in the same way as a detention center.

Taylor supported his motion that morning on testimony from Dr. George Davis, a child psychiatrist qualified as an expert witness for the purpose of the hearing.

Davis, who visited with Jouett twice since the shooting, said he diagnosed him with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and developmental trauma stemming from childhood neglect and abuse. While he said he admired the efforts by CCJDC staff and counselors in the past seven or eight months to address Jouett's issues, he believed the resources and attention of a facility like Sequoyah are more appropriate.

Taylor put it more bluntly in his closing statement to Hudson, calling Jouett's proposed transfer a "medical necessity" and stating his client would "not make it through trial" without that treatment.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover said Jouett's current care in the county's juvenile detention center was adequate for his needs, if not ideal, and ought to be weighed against the "mental anguish" to the community of placing him in a less secure environment.

"Judge, we're way past an ideal situation here," he said in a closing statement.

The main courtroom was almost at capacity all day Friday during the hearing, which opened with testimony from Sequoyah's clinical director Holly Bauer via telephone.

"We are a voluntary program, and when kids volunteer and want to be in here, we don't have (absconding) issues," she told the court, but acknowledged that there wasn't much staff could do if a juvenile at the all-boys facility was determined to leave.

Although the matter is still somewhat up-in-the-air, Reeb said she was pleased with the outcome so far.

"We are happy with the outcome of the pretrial detention motion finding him to be dangerous and that no conditions of release would be safe for the community," she said. "That was definitely a win for us and the victims."


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