FORT WORTH, Texas, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- A Texas teen will serve 26 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to beating a friend to death with a hammer and robbing him, prosecutors said.
Tarrant County prosecutors said the deal was struck in part out of fear District Judge Jean Boyd might sentence the 17-year-old to a lighter sentence. The suspect was 16 at the time of the attack. He was being tried as a juvenile despite attempts by prosecutors to have him tried as an adult. Twice reporters from Fort Worth media outlets were barred from attending hearings by Boyd, including Wednesday's guilty plea and sentencing.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram said family members of the victim, Nicholas Anderson, 17, who were permitted to attend the closed hearings heard testimony in a hearing meant to determine whether the suspect would be tried as an adult of prior violent crimes on his juvenile record. They expressed anger he was not tried as an adult for the crime.
Anderson's body was discovered May 15 in a public park badly beaten. Medical examiners said he died of massive blunt force trauma to the head. The teen stood accused of capital murder, murder and tampering with evidence.
Anderson had a young child he was raising with a girlfriend and worked at a fast food restaurant. He had earned a GED despite dropping out of school, the Star-Telegram said.