New Law Sends Mom of Murdered Teen Back to Court to Hear Accused Killer’s Fate

SACRAMENTO -- The mother of a murdered teen is preparing to take on Senate Bill 1391 as her son's case heads back to court.

Nicole Clavo remembers the day her son, 17-year-old JJ Clavo, a popular Grant High School football player, was murdered.

"They stopped at a stop sign on Silver Eagle and Maple and a young man walked up two the passenger side of the vehicle and shot into the vehicle, shooting the passenger in the arm and my son in the neck," Clavo told FOX40.

Her son’s accused killer, 15-year-old Keymontae Lindsey, was later arrested for the shooting.

"He was initially charged as an adult, which I thought suited the crime," Clavo said.

For years the law allowed the district attorney's office to decide on who to try as an adult or juvenile. But Proposition 57 put that decision into a judge’s hands, forcing Clavo’s case to go back to court. A judge ultimately decided his accused killer was fit to be tried as an adult.

With the introduction of SB 1391, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown and now in effect as of Tuesday, lawyers say families like the Clavos may face yet another uphill battle.

"Victims families are really going to struggle with this because you have some crimes that are pretty atrocious and some severe victim situations," said defense attorney Mike Wise. "Then you have young people that are going to be out at the age of 25."

The bill prohibits charging 14- and 15-year-olds as adults.

Some criminal defense attorneys say there are strong arguments for the bill.

"Statistics show, first of all, juveniles that are redeemable, that their minds are still young and growing," said criminal defense attorney Mark Reichel. "That rehabilitation works with them. That they don’t necessarily have to recidivate because they don’t have any habits or tools to recidivate."

While this new law is unprecedented, Clavo said she’s preparing for good news and bad, all while continuing to keep the memory of her son alive.

"He was a happy young man," she said. "We were a happy family and that was stolen from us."

Clavo said she'll be in court on Friday. The court hearing could set a new precedent for future cases.