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Family Mistrusts Judge, Agrees To Teen Murder Plea Deal

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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - A Fort Worth teen, who killed classmate Nicholas Anderson with a claw hammer, has been sentenced to 26 years behind bars.

The 17-year-old arrived in juvenile court for his trial Wednesday morning, but instead struck a plea deal in the case.

The teen is not being identified because Judge Jean Boyd didn’t certify him to stand trial as an adult.

“We didn’t want to take a chance on him walking out with time served,” says Dr. Lyndia Thomas, who is Anderson’s grandmother. “We didn’t want to risk this guy not getting any time served.”

The family says they agreed to the plea deal because they didn’t want to risk it after seeing how Judge Boyd handled the controversial Ethan Couch case. Boyd has been criticized for sentencing 16-year-old Couch to 10 years probation and therapy in December. Couch admitted to driving drunk and killing four people near Burleson in June of last year.

“Based on her history with the Couch situation, we didn’t trust that she would make the right decision as far as the amount of sentencing that would have taken place,” explains Sonya Burns, who is Anderson’s aunt. “We felt we had a better opportunity had we gone with the plea.”

Anderson’s body was dumped in a heavily-wooded area in Glenwood Park in Fort Worth back in May.  The teen who killed him pulled out a hammer and repeatedly hit Anderson in the head.  Afterwards he stole his watch, phone, wallet and car.

A spokesperson with the district attorney’s office says after the teen killed Anderson, the teen then drove to a friend’s home where he got help moving Anderson’s body.

“He not only stole my grandson, when he took his life. He took my friend,” says Dr. Thomas.  “The family is trying to heal now.”

Judge Boyd closed the courtroom to anyone who was not directly related to the case including the media.

“We strongly oppose closing of the courtroom to the public,” says prosecutor Brock Groom. “Personally, I oppose it, and the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office opposes it at all times.”

The teen’s defense attorney says he felt the judge used her discretion.

“She just felt that this was the type of hearing that needed to be private.  She has that discretion based on the family code and the way the law is written,” says attorney Tim Choy. “I don’t think she abused the law in anyway. It’s her choice.”

The teen will be sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and before his 19th birthday, he could be transferred to an adult prison.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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