JEFFERSON COUNTY - The Jefferson County District Attorney's Office has decided to attempt to charge a 15-year old as an adult in Sunday's stabbing death of 22-year-old Jose Berrera-Mendoza in Lakewood.
It's one of the first high-profile cases of a juvenile being charged as an adult since a big change in the way the state handles these types of cases.
Last year, the state legislature passed House Bill 1271, a bill that shifts much of the decision on where to try the case from the hands of prosecutors and into the hands of judges. Prosecutors around the state fought its passage, but ultimately it was signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper in April of 2012.
In the case of Miguel Ita, 15, prosecutors will have to wait for the results of a transfer hearing in front of a judge before they can find out whether the case can proceed in the adult court system. Before HB 1271, prosecutors would have been allowed to simply "direct file" this type of case into the adult system.
Jefferson County District Attorney Peter Weir wouldn't comment on the specifics of the Ita case, but he would say his office is eager to see how the case plays out under the new set of rules.
"I was an opponent in the change of the law. I did not feel like the proponents demonstrated any type of [prosecutorial] abuse whatsoever," he said.
Lakewood Police believe Ita stabbed three in the parking lot of an apartment complex near Alameda and South Jay St. on Sunday.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)