By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
A daughter of Sue Day, the Tucumcari woman killed with her adoptive daughter Sherry Folts in November 2012, said Tuesday she is appalled by a court order that would apparently allow the 15-year-old accused of the killings to attend field trips at a treatment facility while awaiting trial.
Tony Day is accused of murder in the slayings of his adopted mother and her daughter, which occurred in the Day family home. After spending nearly a year in the Quay County Detention Facility’s juvenile wing, Day was sent to the Sequoyah Adolescent Treatment Facility in Albuquerque.
The facility apparently includes supervised field trips as part of its therapeutic program for young offenders, but is considered a secure facility.
Sabra Williams, Checotah, Okla., said that for the family, the decision to let Day attend field trips “slaps us in the face and stabs us in the heart.”
Further, she said, “the courts didn’t notify the family of the decision,” and did not include the family in the decision process.
What the court is saying, she said, is “it’s OK for the kid to commit murder, while we can’t hug our mom or sister or hear them say ‘I love you,’” Williams said.
She also said the order ignores the viciousness of the slayings, which included knifing, strangulation and shooting, she said.
Judge Albert Mitchell said Tuesday he did not specifically allow field trips. What he approved, he said, was treatment at the Sequoyah facility, based on its secure lock-up facilities and its therapeutic program.
“I do not micro-manage the treatment program,” Mitchell said.
District Attorney Tim Rose, Mitchell said, should have been familiar with details of the therapeutic program, including any use of field trips as part of the therapeutic process.
In a hearing on Rose’s motion to deny Day the opportunity to attend field trips, Day’s defense attorney Jeffrey Buckels said the field trips aren’t “just clowning around,” and said they do not constitute a release from custody of any kind, since detainees at Sequoyah are accompanied by at least two adults at all times.
The field trips indicate that detainees are “ready to graduate to different activities” as part of therapy, Buckels said, adding the request to permit Day to participate in the field trips originated with Sequoyah staff.
Rose said, however, that if Day were in jail, he would not be allowed to attend field trips.
“I think this is a very unsecured situation,” Rose said of the field trips.
“While these recreational activities my be appropriate for certain children that are at Sequoyah (i.e. nonviolent offenders),” Rose wrote in the second of two motions he has filed challenging such excursions for Day, “(they are) certainly not appropriate for Tony Day, who brutally murdered two people and is awaiting trial and of whom we are yet to receive any information as to his mental state, dangerousness, etc.”
After a hearing on the first motion two weeks ago, Mitchell did not change his position, but invited Rose to file another motion, if Rose desired to bring Day back to Quay County. In response, Rose filed his second motion.
No hearing has been set on the second motion.
Sequoyah’s website describes the facility as a “36-bed adolescent treatment program operating 24 hours a day in a secure setting,” and “a safety-net program that specializes in aggressive boys ages 13-17 who have the cognitive capacity to benefit from verbal therapies.”
Further, according to the website, the facility is “for treatment, not incarceration.