CONROE, Texas - A 16-year-old will be tried as an adult for his alleged role in a murder last summer in Montgomery County.
On Tuesday, a judge certified Vanterrial Jones as an adult.
He's among four arrested now in connection with the July 2017 murders in Tamina, Texas, of 23-year-old Jaquise Williams and 24-year-old Akeem Russell. Authorities describe their deaths as a robbery gone bad.
"Our investigation showed the juvenile was heavily involved in this," said Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright.
He says he seeks adult certification for teens in the most heinous of crimes, if circumstances warrant, and after considering their age, involvement and criminal history.
"We're just seeing a general uptick in the nature and the seriousness of some of the crimes juveniles are committing," he said.
According to Lambright, just seven juveniles were certified in Montgomery County as adults between from 2008 to 2012. Since Lambright took office in 2013, there have been 14.
"So that number has doubled. Percentage-wise, it's still very low. We handle 1,100 to 1,200 juvenile cases a year. So it's a very low number that gets certified," he added.
That means a greater potential for punishment if convicted as an adult. Instead of just 40 years, Jones could now receive up to life in prison if tried and convicted of murder.
Lambright hopes that sends a message to those considering violent, egregious crimes: They should not commit them in Montgomery County.
Follow Kevin Quinn on Twitter and Facebook.