In January 2013, Nehemiah Griego killed his parents and three siblings at their home in South Valley, New Mexico. He was 15 years old at the time.
Griego confessed to the killings, according to KOAT, and a jury sentenced him as a juvenile. Under state law, that set him up to be released from prison once he turned 21.
Now the convicted murderer is just days away from his 21st birthday on March 20. But before he’s released, Griego is hoping to have his name changed, according to court documents obtained by KOB. His attorney filed the request in January.
Matthew Bernstein, the lawyer for Griego, said the name change is necessary to protect his client’s privacy and safety.
“Petitioner’s legal name is unique, and a simple online search would connect him to past alleged actions that would jeopardize his personal safety,” Bernstein wrote in the filing, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Bernstein tried to request the name change while only identifying Griego as “John Doe” and wanted relevant documents sealed, the Journal reported. But a judge ruled that Griego’s full name has to appear on the documents.
Griego might be spending a lot more time in prison if the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office gets its way, however. It filed an appeal to overturn his juvenile sentencing and instead sentence him as an adult, according to KRQE. The state attorney general had already been pushing to keep Griego behind bars and praised the district attorney’s decision to challenge his sentencing.
Both sides have presented their arguments about the case to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, KRQE reported. Prosecutors have asked for Griego to stay in prison if there’s no decision by Griego’s 21st birthday.
Vanessa Lightbourne, sister of the convicted killer, doesn’t want to see her brother set free.
“I personally would like him to stay behind bars,” she told KOAT. “I think he is a danger to society, I think he’s a danger to our family.”
Court documents allege that since he’s been in prison, Griego has made death threats to nearly 40 people and also talked about killing “a bunch of people” at Walmart, KOAT reported. He’s denied the comments.
Griego first shot and killed his mother, 9-year-old brother and 5-year-old and 2-year-old sisters, the Journal reported. He then waited until his dad returned home from work and then murdered him as well.
Defense attorneys argued that Griego’s father beat him and left him with a brain injury. The Associated Press reported that the 20-year-old was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder and plans to continue therapy once he’s set free.