By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Tony Day, 15, who killed his adoptive mother and sister in November 2012, was sentenced Thursday to be incarcerated and treated by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department until he is 21.
Tenth Judicial District Judge Albert Mitchell accepted Day’s plea of guilty to two counts of first degree murder before passing sentence. It was the maximum allowed by law.
Day killed his adoptive mother, Sue Day, and her daughter, Sherry Folts, on Nov. 26, 2012. Folts died of asphyxiation and stab wounds. Sue Day was shot to death. Tony Day was 14 when he committed the slayings.
On July 25, Mitchell decided after hearing three days of testimony that Day would likely respond well to behavioral health treatment and that Day would be sentenced as a juvenile if he were found guilty of murder.
Day’s age at the time of the slayings gave Mitchell some discretion in whether Day should be treated as an adult or a juvenile, he said.
At Thursday’s sentencing, Day and his attorney stood as Mitchell asked Day if he was aware that he could change his mind about entering a plea. Day said, “Yes, sir.”
Mitchell then asked Day if Day knew he was pleading to first-degree murder charges, and Day said he was aware that was the charge, and he acknowledged his plea without further comment.
Family members of the victims read statements Thursday after Day received his sentence, expressing outrage at the judge’s decision.
Bobbi Wilson, Sue Day’s daughter, said “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get over” the murders of her mother and sister.
John Wilson, Bobbi’s husband, said of Tony Day, “He thinks like an adult. He brutally murdered Sue and Sherry and planned it like an adult, and yet the court has deemed him a juvenile. I would like the court to (impose) the maximum sentence it can impose on him.”
Another daughter, Sabra Williams, said in a statement read to the court, “The only thing my family did wrong was to care and try to give him (Tony Day) a family to be part of and show him that not everybody just throws you away.”
To Tony Day, she said, “you are an evil person who took two very special people from us. I believe with all my heart that you will kill again when things don’t go your way. I pray for anybody that ever becomes a part of your life, because you are a self-absorbed, evil person.”
Of Sue Day, Williams said, “Mom’s only fault was loving you (Tony). Sherry, as you know very well, had the sweetest and giving heart.”
Mitchell said while he would give CYFD discretion in Day’s rehabilitation program, he would honor a request from Tenth Judicial District Attorney Tim Rose to recommend Day remain in custody until he turns 21 and require that Rose be informed any time Day’s location is changed in order to protect family members living in the Albuquerque area.
When Mitchell announced his decision to sentence Day as a juvenile in July, he said he had to consider factors that included past abuse and neglect, home life and social and emotional health, due to Day’s age.
Home life in the Day household, he said, was chaotic, which was the wrong atmosphere for Tony Day after he had experienced traumatic abuse and neglect as a younger child, and constant shuffling between homes as a foster child.
The Day home, he said, was chaotic before Tony was adopted and after he was adopted, Mitchell said, not faulting the Days, who, he said, were foster parents to as many as five children of varying ages at a time.
Other factors that went into his decision, Mitchell said, include Day’s exemplary record as a student and athlete, and his clean criminal record.
“I see a lot of young people who have gone to jail for hurting people,” Mitchell said, “They do it again and again. That’s not what happened (in Day’s case). He cared for others.”