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

Court addressing Jouett's mental health

Status conference is set for May 21.


April 15, 2018

CLOVIS — More than seven months later, many still feel the pains of Clovis' deadly library shooting as if it were yesterday.

Some of those wounds were laid bare earlier this month during a daylong court hearing — including victim impact statements — on motions concerning the accused teenage shooter Nathaniel Jouett.

But the court is also addressing the mental health needs for Jouett, 16 at the time of the shooting.

While Jouett's defense attorney, Stephen Taylor, wanted him transferred to Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Center in Albuquerque for treatment, prosecutors want him in Clovis; that's where they feel security issues are a higher priority.

Fifth Judicial District Judge James Hudson tried to compromise after an April 6 hearing. Jouett will remain in Clovis pending his trial, which is scheduled next year in Roswell.

But an "evaluation and assessment" must also be conducted on Jouett, preferably with assistance from staff at Sequoyah.

A treatment plan must follow, including possible medication.

"I think it was a very good compromise," District Attorney Andrea Reeb said Friday. "We need to make sure Mr. Jouett's mental health is taken care of but we also have to make sure the safety of the community is taken care of."

Taylor said he was "working with everybody involved to try to comply with the court's order," but emphasized his concerns by pointing to an incident that happened during the April 6 court hearing.

When surveillance video from the Aug. 28 shooting played in the courtroom, Jouett broke down crying and was escorted away for the rest of the afternoon.

"I had a feeling that we might see this kind of response, and the issue that seems to be developing is whether or not we can work through Nathaniel's trauma and his diagnosis and get him the proper care so we can begin to process the evidence before trial," Taylor said Friday. "He's more scared or as scared as anyone else, when you look at it."

The judge has scheduled a status conference for May 21.

Hurting hasn't stopped for victims

Jouett was charged with killing two and sending four others to the hospital after opening fire at the library.

The April 6 hearing showed 14 gunshots were fired in six seconds, with at least 20 shots fired in all.

Jouett wasn't the only one crying in the courtroom when video from the library was shown to the judge this month.

Many of the victims also were in tears.

"Just because that day is over doesn't mean the hurt has stopped," said Alexis Molina, who was shot three times. "My body hurts every single day. I do not feel like a normal young adult anymore."

Molina, who still has a bullet in her left leg, said she can no longer stand up more than a quarter hour at a time. It didn't take her that long to read her statement to Judge Hudson.

"Noah was 10, and so much innocence was taken away from him," she said of her brother, who was shot in the hand. "I can't imagine the confusion and hurt (he) has to endure."

Denise Madrid said she and the rest of her family also suffered from what happened to her children that day. She described it as a nightmare from which she hopes to wake.

"(Alexis and Noah) both went from being social butterflies to not wanting to meet new people," she said. "The thought of almost losing my kids hurts me daily. This unnecessary tragedy has changed our lives forever."

Howard Jones said he is still limited to one hand after being shot in the left arm, and that the children with him during the incident "do not sleep at night." In January, he suffered a heart attack and had triple bypass surgery.

"Please keep him locked up," Jones said to Hudson, echoing the request made by many others who gave impact statements.

'Weird mental stuff going on'

Jouett did not testify at the April 6 hearing, but the court heard from him in a video prosecutors said he recorded moments before the shooting.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover told the court it was evidence that the shooting was "an act simply of terrorism."

"A randomized act of violence is the most difficult to contain and predict," Stover said.

Jouett said on the video: "By the time you're watching this the deed will have already been done.

"Why did I do this? I don't know, even. ... There was no really set reason why," he says.

"I'm not doing this for attention or anything like that. I'm doing this because I got some weird mental stuff going on."


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