Juveniles Remain In Detention

by Donna McCollum

Teenagers are accused of being part of the capital murder of James Kelly, a Cushing man shot in the head while he slept last month. Authorities believe he was the victim of a murder for hire plot organized by his wife. Six people face capital murder charges, including the woman's daughter. The 16-year-old girl was the only teenager to appear at Wednesday's detention hearing.

Shaina Sepulvado arrived at court wearing shackles and a pink Corona Beer t-shirt. The high school dropout has been at a Gregg County Juvenile Detention Center since October 27th. Still there are 15-year-olds Colton Weir and Gary Batchelor. They waived their detention hearing, an option often taken.

District Attorney Stephanie Stephens said, "Sometimes, their attorney or the child realize that, at least at this point, it's a rather futile hope to believe they might be released," as it was for Shaina. She'll remain in detention. Stephens explained her reason for requesting further detention. "A child who would commit a brutal act such as a murder are in need of supervision."

Shaina's mother, Marcia Kelly, the woman who investigators say paid someone to kill her sleeping husband, is in jail. No one has ever known where Shaina's biological father could be, and other family members say they can't assume supervision. So, that will remain the job of juvenile authorities, giving Stephens more time to decide if she'll seek adult certification.

Stephens said certification is something prosecutors can seek in cases like this. "The more heinous the crime, when we start talking about murder or capital murder, we move beyond rehabilitation, and we think it's time to move into the adult system so a jury can decide."

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are busy reviewing juvenile law. Fortunately, that's something rarely pursued, because Nacogdoches County teenagers seldom commit such violent crimes.

The three teenagers' next juvenile detention hearing is November 30th. The adults - Marcia Kelly, Billy Loftin Jr., and Dallas Christian - remain in jail. Their cases will be presented to a Grand Jury in about a month.