Teenage murder suspect John Gonzales III will stand trial in adult court for the murder of James Whitley, 24, at a North side apartment complex this summer.
According to San Antonio police investigators, Whitley was shot to death during a gun battle that erupted at the complex in the 3500 block of West Avenue August 13.
They said Whitley planned to sell marijuana to the Gonzales and two other people, but Gonzales decided to rob him instead.
Whitley was shot in the thigh and died in surgery, police said.
During his hearing in juvenile court Friday, Gonzales’ head still showed the scar where it was grazed by a bullet.
Prosecutors called on Detective Raymond Roberts, the lead police investigator on the case, who testified that Gonzales showed little remorse as he confessed to the killing.
“Not really chuckling or laughing, but he had a smile on his face,” Roberts said.
Defense attorney Tony Jimenez argued that his client was remorseful, and that Whitley shared the blame because he also was breaking the law at the time.
Jimenez told the judge that Gonzales, who was 15 at the time, should remain in the juvenile system. He said his client has no serious criminal history and suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, which have left him learning disabled.
“There's nothing to indicate that he's going to be a threat to the community in the future and I think all of those things are extremely important,” Jimenez said.
After hearing the arguments, Judge Laura Parker decided that, due to the nature of the crime, Gonzales should be certified to stand trial in adult court. She set bond for Gonzales, who has been in custody since August, at $100,000.
After the hearing, Whitley’s relatives stood outside the courtroom dressed in T-shirts bearing his picture and messages of remembrance. They said they’re satisfied with the decision.
"We're happy with the outcome and we just want justice to be served,” said Jessica Aguirre, Whitley’s sister-in-law. “(His death) is hard for everybody. It's a loss. The kids lost their father."
With the change in status, Gonzales now faces a possible sentence of 5 to 99 years if he’s convicted.