Judge: Teen murder case too violent for juvenile court

By  | 

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Pointing to previous problems in the juvenile system, a Grand Island judge turned down a teenager's request that his murder trial be moved to juvenile court.

A judge denied Grand Island teen murder suspect Arek Friedricksen's request to move his case to juvenile court.

Arek Friedricksen, 16, is charged with first degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. He was arrested in May for the April shooting death of Vincent Arrellano, 32, near a residence in east Grand Island.

Friedricksen has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Friedricksen's attorney is Todd Lancaster of the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy. Lancaster argued in his request that since Friedricksen was 16 at the time of the murder, state law requires that the case be adjudicated in a juvenile court.

In juvenile court, the death penalty is off the table. Juvenile court proceedings are also closed to the public and to news media.

Lancaster also asked that Friedricksen be transferred to a secure juvenile detention center. In his motion Lancaster said that Friedricksen is being held in a segregated cell at the Hall County Detention Center in Grand Island. He also said Friedricksen has no contact with anyone other than jail personnel and is released from his cell only to shower, exercise indoors and for limited visits from his family. Lancaster also said Friedricksen is not being provided any educational services.

District court judge Andrew Butler denied both requests. Butler pointed to Friedricksen's previous record in juvenile court, which included numerous probation violations.

In his ruling, Butler also pointed out that violent nature of the murder and said consideration had to be made for public safety.

Friedricksen's next court hearing is in January and his trial is scheduled in February. If convicted, he could get life in prison or the death penalty.

Police arrested Friedricksen May 9. Grand Island police said he was listed as a runaway juvenile in late March. The State Patrol's website listed Friedricksen missing as of March 27.

Grand Island police said the initial call came in around 9:15 PM April 24 as a disturbance in the Lincoln Park area. Once the officer arrived, they found Arrellano with multiple gunshot wounds to his torso. Arrellano was taken by ambulance from the scene. At 11:46 PM that night authorities said he died from his injuries while being treated in the CHI Health St. Francis Emergency Room.

The Hall County Attorney said Friedricksen used a Tec-9 handgun to murder Arrellano.

"I heard a lot of screaming, and a lot of yelling and people were all freaked out," said Kaleigh Rapp, a neighbor. "It was a scary situation."

It was the first criminal homicide in Grand Island since January 2018.