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Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (14)
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: February 26, 2005
Date of birth: 1990
Victim profile: Gerald O'Malley, 87
Method of murder: Beating with a skateboard
Location: San Luis Obispo County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to the state's Division of Juvenile Justice, formerly known as the California Youth Authority, until his 25th birthday on May 5, 2006

Teen killer sent to state lockup

The 14-year-old who beat Gerald O'Malley to death will go to a corrections center for children in a ruling rejecting claims the agency can't rehabilitate him

By Leslie Griffy -

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Gerald O'Malley's 14-year-old killer will spend at least the next five years at a state corrections facility for children, a judge ruled Friday, rejecting claims that the embattled agency couldn't rehabilitate the boy.

"I could say he doesn't look like a murderer," Juvenile Court Judge Teresa Estrada-Mullaney said, "but he is."

As Estrada-Mullaney read her ruling, the boy hung his head low, nearly resting his forehead on the table before him. His normally tanned face was red.

Defense attorney Theresa Klein said after the ruling it is "very concerning that he'll be put in a system that says it is broken by its own standards." She plans to appeal his conviction.

Experts have criticized the state Division of Juvenile Justice, formerly known as the California Youth Authority, for being too violent and crowded and for offering too few educational and counseling opportunities.

Putting the boy, who has a low IQ and emotional problems, into the system is "just like throwing him away," one psychologist testified for the defense during a hearing this week.

But that expert, Robert Halon, added the boy must be punished for beating 87-year-old O'Malley with a skateboard on Feb. 26 of last year.

In her decision, Estrada-Mullaney highlighted what the boy did after the attack: He went home, got a padlock and then locked O'Malley in his San Luis Obispo house to die in a pool of his own blood on the kitchen floor.

"This young man needs punishment," prosecutor Andrew Baird said after the ruling, noting Halon's warning that an alternative sentence such as a group home would, for the boy, seem like getting off easy.

The youth will have options at the juvenile correction facilities to study and to stay away from the violent older gang members with whom he'll share dorm space, Baird said.

"I am hopeful he will learn to make the right choice," Baird said.

Division authorities can hold the boy until his 25th birthday and, depending on his behavior, will likely release him by his 19th or 21st birthday. Both Baird and Klein said that means it is important that he is rehabilitated.

But Klein thinks that won't happen at a state facility. In his more than a year at the county Juvenile Services Center, the boy requested counseling services more than 100 times and was put on suicide watch three times.

He once pounded on the doors of his room with his hands until they were bruised enough to require medical attention.

The care he received at the center, where he flourished with good behavior, resulted in improving grades in school. But that help won't be available in a correctional facility, Klein said.

The boy, defense experts testified, desperately wants a father figure -- his own father, according to court records, is an abusive alcoholic -- and will be drawn to any strong man, good or bad.

"He doesn't know how to be," Halon said.

The Tribune isn't naming the boy because he is a minor.

After the ruling, the boy and his mother spent time alone together. "He's worried," Klein said, "about her."


Teenager given maximum sentence in murder case

By Andrew Masuda -

Friday, May 5, 2006

A judge sentenced 14-year-old Robert Holguin to the state's Division of Juvenile Justice, formerly known as the California Youth Authority, until his 25th birthday, for the murder of Gerald O'Malley.

The judge allowed cameras in the courtroom because of the crime's serious nature. Judge Teresa Estrada-Mullaney says while the boy looks shy and gentle, he is a murderer. She said the boy poses a danger to society without the long term treatment he'll receive in the Division of Juvenile Justice.

Holguin showed little emotion while Estrada-Mullaney gave him the maximum sentence. The boy's attorney had argued that the 14-year-old, who has special needs, would benefit more from specialized treatment at a boys' home. Prosecutors and defense attorneys disagree how the system will shape the man this boy becomes.

"The Youth Authority is saving almost no one, even by their own experts analysis, and we're very afraid that he's not going to get the rehabilitation he'll need and that he's going to turn into a hardened criminal when he gets out, " said defense attorney Theresa Klein.

"It will be up to this young man to decide which way his life is going to turn," said Deputy District Attorney Andy Baird. "And if he does not choose so for whatever reason, any program is going to fail and he's going to come out and re-offend, and be locked up again for a lot longer."

The defense already plans to appeal the sentence. Holguin will be transferred from Juvenile Hall to the DJJ's reception center. After he's evaluated there, he'll be assigned to a specific facility somewhere in the state. The judge plans to recommend the boy is placed in the Paso Robles facility. The average age of a ward there is 17.

There is a chance Holguin could be released before his 25th birthiday. The DJJ's parole board will make that decision based upon his rehabilitation.


Lawyers debate teen killer's fate

By Stacy Daniel -

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

*It is the policy of Action News NOT to use the names of minors, but due to the nature of the crimes committed by the boy, a county judge has said the public has a right to know his name, and see his face...

San Luis Obispo County's youngest person to be convicted of murder is in the courtroom again on Tuesday.

Attorneys are trying to convince the judge where the 14-year-old should spend the next several years for beating to death 87-year-old war veteran Gerald O'Malley.

Both attorneys have very different ideas of where Robert Holguin should by placed. But they do agree that he is a very disturbed boy, and is in need of rehabilitation.

Holguin sits in the courtroom quietly, and looks around as witnesses testify about where he should spend the next several years of his life.

"I think a secure facility is definitely warranted in this case," said Sandra Tellers, juvenile justice expert.

The defense believes the best place for him to overcome his deeply-rooted behavioral problems is a group home. The problem with that is only one home, out of 30 that were contacted, said it would consider taking in a confessed murderer.

The prosecution said this is not a surprise.

"It is unusual to try to place someone for first-degree murder in anywhere but the Youth Authority, in my opinion," said Andrew Baird, deputy district attorney.

The defense said in order to help Holguin return to society he needs extensive mental treatment.

The defense attorney claimed that he cannot get treatment at the Division of Juvenile Justice, which used to be called the California Youth Authority. If Holguin is sent there, he will be the youngest person at the state's Division of Juvenile Justice.

Holguin has been labeled as emotionally disturbed and extremely needy. If he does not get the proper treatment, experts fear these qualities make him susceptible to gang violence.

"He had a very tough childhood, he has brain damage, he has learning disabilities and a very low IQ, so he needs to learn skills to cope," said Theresa Klein, defense attorney.

It will be up to the judge to decide where he will learn those skills.

Experts say racial and gang violence is prominent at all the youth facilities in California, so no matter where Holguin is sent he will have to work very hard to turn his life around.

Judge Estrada-Mullaney is expected to announce her sentencing decision on Friday.



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