One of two Grand Island teenagers charged in the death of a North Platte resident during a drug deal in 2018 will not have his case heard in juvenile court.
The Nebraska Court of Appeals in October upheld a lower-court ruling to deny a motion to transfer the case against Jesus A. Martinez, 17, from District Court.
Both Martinez and Brayden M. Turner, 16, are charged with first-degree felony murder and using a firearm to perpetrate a felony in the death of 22-year-old Ethan Pohlmeier on Sept. 14, 2018.
Neither would face the death penalty if convicted, because the felony murder charge carries a definitive sentence of life imprisonment. The firearms charge carries a possible five- to 50-year prison term.
In its written decision, the Court of Appeals cited a North Platte Police Department report that states that Martinez and Turner drove from Grand Island to North Platte to obtain marijuana and met Pohlmeier at a park. When it became apparent that the marijuana was not going to be paid for, Pohlmeier apparently lunged into the car to retrieve the drugs and Martinez shot him, according to the police report.
The motions to move the cases for Martinez and Turner were rejected in Lincoln County District Court in May. Judge James E. Doyle IV of Lexington cited “protection of the public and societal security” as the prime reasons not to move the cases to juvenile court.
Should either or both be convicted, Doyle added, “the possible benefits of rehabilitation efforts” in juvenile court would be outweighed by the need to confine one or both “to a secured facility well beyond the age of 19 years,” the general limit of juvenile court jurisdiction.
Martinez’s appeal contended that the district court abused its discretion in denying the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed Doyle’s decision in its Oct. 15 ruling.
The case against Turner, a former North Platte resident, remains in district court as his attorneys work toward a plea agreement.