HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A 16-year-old will stand trial as an adult for the 2021 capital murder of a 20-year-old in northeast Harris County, according to records.
On Thursday, District Court Judge Michelle Moore ruled to certify the teen as an adult, according to chief prosecutor Allen Otto of the Harris County District Attorney's Juvenile Division.
The teen's name has not been released because the order has not been filed with the district clerk. The decision came after a daylong hearing at the Juvenile Justice Center.
"The judicial juvenile justice system doesn't have the tools to deal with him, and keeping him in the juvenile justice system would pose a danger to the safety of the community," Otto said after the hearing.
The suspect was 15 years old when HCSO investigators said that he and an unknown accomplice broke into a house in the Kingslake Forest neighborhood and fatally shot 20-year-old Francisco Orozco, who was hiding in a closet.
Orozco was home alone after his brother and sister-in-law went to the hospital because of a medical emergency.
Orozco was described as remarkable, thoughtful, and hardworking by his sister. She said he was planning to go to college and was meticulous about his car because he worked hard to get it. Orozco was on the phone with a 9-1-1 operator before his death.
"You can sense the fear and the hope that law enforcement would have time to get there, and then his life being taken away from him," Otto recalled the heartbreaking call. "Completely innocent victim in this world, which lends to heinous nature of this crime."
Besides the capital murder, the teen is charged with four other serious crimes in his neighborhood from July to November 2021. They are burglary of a habitation and three aggravated robberies.
After the hearing, Orozco's family told ABC13 that the certification was the right decision and it was what they wanted.
Certification has also become rarer in recent years.
"We're looking at four or five certifications a year, which is significantly lower than in the past," Otto said.
Otto explained that the decision to file for certification is made by a committee and has to meet several criteria.
On trial for his parents' murders, A.J. Armstrong was certified as an adult when he was 17. More recently, 16-year-old Auzavier Wartel was certified as he faced charges because he allegedly sexually assaulted his therapist.