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Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (14) - Parricide
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: July 4, 2004
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: October 9, 1989
Victims profile: His father, stepmother, and stepsister
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: New Mexico, USA
Status: Sentenced as a juvenile to be detained until he was 21 years old. Released October 10, 2010

photo galleries

Cody Posey family album
homicide at Sam Donaldson’s ranch evidence file

Cody Posey (born October 9, 1989) is a New Mexico teenager who confessed to killing his father, stepmother, and stepsister on July 4, 2004; when he was 14 years old.

Posey was found guilty of various degrees of homicide. He was subsequently sentenced as a juvenile to be detained until he was 21 years old with the possibility of parole after 40 days.

Early life

In 1992, when Cody was 3 years old, his parents Delbert Paul and Carla Burst, filed for divorce. This caused a very acrimonious custody dispute that lasted 8 years. In between that time period Delbert remarried with Sandy Paul. She and Cody had a good relationship, however she divorced Cody's father in 1998.

Cody's custody dispute ended in 2000, when Delbert Paul, who was more commonly referred to by his middle name "Paul", surrendered his parental rights to his ex-wife. Cody's mother gained full custody, but it would last for a few short months. Cody's mother, Carla, was fatally injured in a car accident. As a result, Cody Posey was returned to his father, who by then was remarried with Tryone Schmid.

In the process, Cody also gained a younger step-sister; Marilea, who was approximately one year younger than he. Cody, his father, and new step-mother and step-sister lived in a ranch owned by ABC reporter Sam Donaldson, in Chavez Canyon, New Mexico. In 2001, Donaldson hired Paul Posey to care for the ranch.

The Crime

On Monday July 4, 2004, Cody Posey, after enduring years of abuse from his father, "snapped" when his father slapped him across the face for not cleaning the horse stalls fast enough.

According to his defense team, prior to the murder, Cody was burnt with a welding rod and instructed by his father to have sex with Tryone. Cody told sheriff's deputies that he refused and ran off the property but did return later.

The next day, upon being slapped, Cody took a gun from his step-sister's saddlebag and loaded it. He went inside the house, where Tryone Posey was reading a book in the living room, and shot her twice in the head. Cody confessed that he shot her a second time to make sure he got the job done. The first shot was actually snake shot. Cody thought he unloaded the snake shot in favor of more lethal ammunition.

Paul Posey, hearing the shots, ran inside where Cody also shot him to death. Next he pointed his weapon towards Marilea, who was behind Paul, shooting her in the head, for fear that she would be the one to turn him in. Cody dragged the bodies out of the house and loaded them in the bucket of a John-Deere backhoe.

Cody admitted he attempted to bury them in a nearby plot of land, but after not being able to break the ground, opted to bury them in a shallow grave in a manure pile. After the murders, Cody changed clothes and drove his father's truck to the store for a can of Sprite. He then drove to a friend's house staying there until his arrest.

The following Tuesday, Sam Donaldson could not reach his employee Paul Posey on the phone, so he and his wife drove out to the Posey ranch. Mr. Donaldson entered the house to discover something was very wrong. He witnessed the congealed blood by the refrigerator where Cody shot Paul in the head as he came through the door. Mr. Donaldson immediately called a friend and law enforcement officer to investigate. It wasn't until after Cody confessed to the killings that the bodies were uncovered in the manure pile. Cody tossed the murder weapon (.38 special) in the river.

The trial

The trial began January 16, 2006. Sam Donaldson described Cody Posey as "withdrawn, like any typical teenager". Another witness Robert Sibbles, stated that the boy's disciplined and overly scheduled life involved sadism, humiliation, and isolation, which "did not allow for any kind of outlet."

Since he planned the orders of the killings so that he would not get caught, the prosecution contends that actions taken by the defendant prove that he was aware of the fact that murdering his family was a crime.

He shot Tryone first in order to keep her from calling 911 because she was inside the home. Various witnesses, however, testified that Paul Posey indeed was abusive and cruel to Cody. He frequently punched or slapped the boy. He gave Cody various chores around the ranch and they had to be done quickly.

Cody's biological mother once reported him for child abuse, after Paul beat Cody with a board on the buttocks for bringing home bad grades. The defense suggested Tryone was also into the abuse. Marilea was favored by the couple over Cody and was instructed by Paul and her mother to keep tabs on Cody in school.

Cody's defense attorney, Gary Mitchell, never denied that Cody murdered the family - instead he suggested the murder happened as a result of years of abuse and dissociation.

Furthermore, the defense brought in evidence of incestuous pornography, which was found on Paul Posey's computer, the only computer in the home that had access to the internet. Marilea's and Cody's computers did not have the internet, and the times that the sites were visited the children were away at school.

The prosecution, however, claims the child abuse claims are exaggerations. They portrayed Cody as a cold-blooded killer, who wanted to be rid of his family because they made him do chores and perform well in school. The prosecution submitted family photos to counter attack the defense's notion that Cody was not loved or included in family events.


On Tuesday February 7, 2006, Posey was convicted of first degree murder in the death of his stepsister, second degree murder in the death of his stepmother, and voluntary manslaughter in the death of his father. He was also found guilty of four charges of evidence tampering.

On Thursday February 23, 2006 Cody was sentenced by Judge Counts as a juvenile and is to remain in the custody of juvenile authorities until he reaches the age of 21. He could be released on parole in as little as 40 days from the day he was sentenced.

On September 25, 2006, Cody was named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Miami attorney Jack Thompson on behalf of the surviving Posey relatives. Also named were Grand Theft Auto creator Rockstar Games, publisher Take Two Interactive and PlayStation 2 manufacturer Sony. The lawsuit alleged Posey was trained by the video game GTA: Vice City to be more aggressive, and a more efficient killer.


Teen Cody Posey convicted of murder, manslaughter for killing his family

Feb. 8, 2006

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. — A New Mexico jury found a 16-year-old boy guilty of two murder counts and one count of voluntary manslaughter Tuesday for the shooting deaths of his parents and stepsister on a ranch owned by newsman Sam Donaldson.

Cody Posey was convicted of first-degree murder for the death of stepsister Marilea, who was 13 when Cody shot her twice in the head in July 2004, after deciding his world would "be better off" without his family.

He was convicted of second-degree murder for killing his stepmother, Tryone.

The jury found him guilty of a lesser count, voluntary manslaughter, for killing his father, Paul Posey, who Cody claimed abused him physically and emotionally from the time he was a baby up until minutes before the shootings.

The seven women and five men of the jury deliberated 12 hours before reaching their verdict, and left the courthouse without commenting.

Although Cody was tried in children's court, 12th District Judge James Waylon Counts could sentence him as an adult for the murder convictions. First-degree murder carries a maximum life sentence, with parole in 30 years, and second-degree murder carries a 20-year maximum.

After three weeks of evidence, which often put the victims on trial as abusive aggressors, emotions ran high as Counts read the verdict to a courtroom packed with Cody's supporters on one side and his victims' relatives on the other.

Cody, who was mostly poised throughout the trial, bowed his head onto the defense table and sobbed as his attorney hugged him. His aunt and custodial guardian, Corliss Clees, who has been a staunch supporter of the teen, collapsed weeping onto the floor at the front row of the gallery and was later carried out on a stretcher by paramedics.

Throughout the trial, the victims' families have bristled at the public support for Cody, which was evident even through deliberations as picketers marched outside the courthouse carrying signs that read "Free Cody."

Many of Cody's teachers, classmates and fellow ranch hands from his home in Hondo served as defense witnesses and corroborated claims that the Poseys abused their son with shovels, lariats, rocks, a hay hook and other implements of ranch life, as well as fists and demeaning words.

But Otero County prosecutors said the manner in which Cody carried out the killings reflected premeditated calculation and cold-bloodedness.

In a videotaped police statement two days after the shootings, Cody said the shootings occurred after an argument in which his father, who worked as a foreman on Donaldson's ranch, slapped him over cleaning the horse corrals. And the night before the killings, he said, his father tried to make him have sex with his stepmother, a claim his defense attempted to corroborate with evidence of "incestuous" pornography on his father's computer.

After weighing his options, Cody said he went to the barn to retrieve his sister's .38-caliber revolver, emptied it of snake shot and reloaded it with live rounds.

He then entered the family's home and shot Tryone first so she would be unable to call authorities.

As his father and stepsister came running into the house, Cody shot one after the other, shooting Marilea twice in the head as she wiggled on the ground, "so she wouldn't go tell or nothing."

He buried the bodies in a shallow grave of manure.

He then drove his father's truck into town, bought a can of Sprite and stayed with friends.

Donaldson was the first to come upon the grisly crime scene, where trails of blood marked the path from the point-blank shootings to the makeshift graves.

The jury also found Cody guilty of four counts of evidence tampering for his attempts to bury the body and cover up his crimes.

Following the verdict Tuesday, Verlin Posey, brother of victim Paul, said he felt the verdict was a compromise but was pleased that his nephew would remain locked up.

"One lifetime in prison is a pretty small debt for three," said Verlin Posey, who testified for the state that he never detected signs of an abusive relationship between his brother and nephew.

Cody's defense lawyer, Gary Mitchell, who became emotional at several times during the trial when speaking of the ordeals he believed Cody had endured, said the teen was unprepared for the verdict.

"Children never expect horrible things to happen. He thinks there's some sort of sense of justice in this world," said Mitchell in a tearful interview with reporters on the courthouse steps.

"We put the blame on a 14-year-old for the sins and omissions of the adults," Mitchell said. "This could have been prevented if those adults who stood by came forward, yet we expect him to act with greater courage."


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