The two boys approached 58-year-old Rafael Quintanilla as he sat on his porch in the 4000 block of Baudin Street on the afternoon of May 29, 2012, police said at the time. The 13-year-old pointed a .380 caliber pistol at Quintanilla and demanded that the man give him “everything,” police said.
Before he could comply, the 13-year-old shot him in the stomach and they both ran off, police said.
The 15-year-old boy had a Mohawk hairstyle the day of the shooting, easy for police to spot as they apprehended him minutes after the crime, authorities have said. After he was in custody, he told police the 13-year-old was the gunman and that he had an ankle bracelet from prior run-in with the law. Police tracked the 13-year-old to eastern New Orleans shortly thereafter and he was taken into custody, authorities said.
Almost a year later, the two boys are facing almost certain lock-up until age 21.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Bowman said the 15-year-old boy pled guilty in December and will serve a juvenile life term. The 13-year-old boy is expected to plead guilty in a court appearance March 13 and also receive a juvenile life sentence.
First-degree murder, second-degree murder, aggravated rape and aggravated kidnapping all carry a mandatory life sentence for juveniles, requiring them to remain in custody without probation or parole until they turn 21, according to the state Children’s Code.
Dana Kaplan, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, said rehabilitation is crucial for young offenders.
“Studies show that the juvenile justice system is the most appropriate place to have juveniles,” said Kaplan, rather than sending them to adult courts.
Kaplan said state facilities offer schooling, rehabilitative programs and vocational training.
“It’s not just about the sentence,” said Kaplan, stressing that rehabilitative programming and re-entry plans are a key part of the process.
The law also requires the department to prepare an “individualized and thorough transitional plan that identifies the techniques, programs, personnel, and facilities that will be used to assist the child in achieving a successful return to his family and the community.”
The Office of Juvenile Justice has funded community-based reentry providers to help with a healthy transition back into society, Kaplan said, but these programs have been affected by state budget cuts.