Nathan Ybanez, 15, of Douglas County, CO, told the sheriff’s office in 1997 that he could not live with his abusive parents. The Denver Post says a deputy returned him to his mother, who he beat and strangled to death eight months later. Ybanez was convicted and sentenced to prison for life without a chance of parole. Jurors “never heard scientific research or expert testimony that could have shown he fits the profile of a battered kid whose inner turmoil reached a flash point,” the Post says in the third article in a series. At least four teenagers in Colorado have been sent away for life without parole in connection with a parent killing in the past 15 years.
Colorado’s mandatory life-without-parole sentence for murder, coupled with broad discretionary powers for prosecutors to charge juveniles as adults, increases the chances that a parent killer will be put behind bars without rehabilitation, said Mary Ellen Johnson of The Pendulum Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group trying to scale back Colorado’s stiff adult penalties for juveniles. Yet, “many of these kids have proven they can be rehabilitated,” she said.