Should parents be held accountable when children commit crimes?

(KRQE)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Teen gangs continue to make headlines with shocking crimes, and it has some asking: Where are their parents? And should they be held accountable too?

In children’s court on Tuesday, Vinnie Gerecke told one of the teens charged with killing her husband that his parents are just as much to blame for the murder as he is.

“They created a monster, and I don’t believe you have a conscience or a soul,” Vinnie said.

She spoke to 16-year-old Matthew Baldonado, one of six teens who police say went on a crime spree before shooting and killing Steve Gerecke in his driveway a year and a half ago.

“I can tell you that your family didn’t do you any favors, ever. I don’t know what you did, but you sure didn’t raise him the way he should’ve been raised,” Vinnie said. “I hold you as responsible as I do him.”

Baldonado will be in jail until he’s 21 years old, and Gerecke’s family thinks the parents of Steve’s accused killers should also face consequences.

“Absolutely, jail time. Yeah, why not?” said Heather Alter, Steve’s daughter.

This follows a rare case in Los Lunas where mother Loretta Villalobos was convicted last week on the basis that her bad parenting allowed her 15-year-old son, Brandon, to kill his 12-year-old friend, Alex Madrid.

Prosecutors say Villalobos knew her son was violent and let him go out, unsupervised with a friend. But only her son came back.

“Her son told her we’re going out to vandalize homes. He comes back with a tire iron and blood on his hands, saying three guys have jumped him,” said Deputy District Attorney Joshua Jimenez.

She now faces up to 18 years behind bars for negligent child abuse resulting in death.

“The facts in our case are pretty egregious. I can’t speak to the other ones,” Jimenez said.

In 2014, a group of teens beat to death two homeless men after a night of drinking.

Just last month, police named teens in a gang connected to a string of violent crimes in Albuquerque.

“You know what’s going on and it’s getting worse. We’re in an epidemic and people need to wake up,” said Alter.

But the mother of one of the teens connected to Gerecke’s murder has said she’s not to blame.

“At age 15 years old, they don’t have to be at your house. Maybe he needs to make better choices of friends, but I don’t like the fact that she’s bashing me and my son and the parents,” said Linda Hubler.

That woman’s son, Andrew Hubler, took a deal in the case. He pleaded guilty to charges including aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon. In exchange, the murder charges were dropped.

Many of the teens in the case are still awaiting sentencing.