Student charged in principal’s slaying is clueless to situation, defense attorney says

Eduardo Marmolejo
Eduardo Marmolejo

A 16-year-old student charged in the August stabbing death of Memphis Junior Academy principal Suzette York has “no clue” about the seriousness of his case, his lawyer said this morning.
Eduardo Marmolejo, an 11th grade student at the Seventh-day Adventist school, made a brief appearance in Criminal Court where a challenge has been filed by his Juvenile Court attorney regarding his competency to be tried as an adult.
Leslie Ballin, who signed on today to handle the case, said he will review the Juvenile Court attorney’s filings and make a decision by next month on whether to adopt the previous attorney’s filing.
He said the case may be difficult to defend on fact issues, since Marmolejo gave police a detailed statement of admission, but Ballin said his client has serious mental issues.
“I just don’t know that the young man can follow a trial,” Ballin said after a brief hearing before Judge John Fowlkes Jr. “This young man, he’s out there. I’m talking as a lay person, but there’s just some weird stuff. ... In my opinion, he has no clue.”
Fowlkes told Ballin and state prosecutor Terre Fratesi that he will hear from them again on Nov. 17 to determine how to proceed.
The case was transferred from Juvenile Court on Sept. 7 after Special Judge Herb Lane found Marmolejo competent to stand trial on first-degree murder charges.
Lane ruled that the teen likely committed the delinquent act of murder, that he is not committable to a mental institution and that the interests of the community require that Marmolejo be put under legal restraint or discipline.
Marmolejo, who remains in the Shelby County Jail without bond, admitted to police that he stabbed York to death on Aug. 10 in a classroom at the East Memphis school at 50 N. Mendenhall and said he spent the previous night sharpening his knife for two hours and studied hand-to-hand combat techniques on the Internet.
© 2011 Memphis Commercial Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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