Miguel Navarro had never been to a party with his brother before.

It was 2007, a few days after Christmas in Katy, Texas. That night, his girlfriend asked him to hang out with her, but Miguel wanted to hang out with his brother. He was 15 years old and his older brother Lupe Salazar, 17 at the time, remembers the moment vividly.

“I remember, he opened the door and was smiling and was like ‘What’s up dude?’” Salazar says. “I was rushing out the room, and he was like ‘Where are you going?’ Then I told him, ‘I’m going’ and he said ‘Take me with you.’

“I told him no, but my girlfriend at the time – she was the one who pumped me up about taking him with me – she said, ‘He’s a cool kid, maybe he’ll have fun.’”

Salazar told him to hurry up and Navarro ran back to his room to change. “I was ready to leave,” Salazar says. “I’m waiting in the car, I’m beeping telling him to hurry up and he’s running out the door.”

When they arrived, Salazar found that the party was made up of older kids, many of them college-age. They were doing what college kids do: dancing, drinking, drugs. Salazar invited some more friends and when they arrived, things took a turn.

“I guess we weren’t wanted at one point. We didn’t even make it to the driveway,” Salazar says. “Beer bottles flew in our direction and I was hearing tons of cuss words: ‘F-ing Mexicans, F-ing this, F-ing that.’ Off in the corner of my eye, I saw people with golf clubs and bats. And that’s when a big brawl ended up happening.”

Salazar says he tried to gather up his friends and leave. But it was too late – by then, a group of guys had surrounded him and started beating him.

“I felt that I was alone at one point,” he says. “I had six or seven guys on top of me, and then I heard that somebody had gotten stabbed.”

The police arrived. Salazar couldn’t find his friends or his brother, but soon he heard the news: three people had been stabbed. One of them was dead. And they knew who had done it – his little brother Miguel.

When Navarro went to help his older brother, he says he pulled a out a knife. In the chaos, he stabbed Matthew Haltom.

“I did reach for my knife and I did it. I regret it, but I did it,” Navarro says. “He got on top of me and was swinging. I don’t know the man, never met him before. It happened. I stabbed him.”

Navarro says other people jumped on top of him and he stabbed two of them also. Navarro spotted some friends of his brother in a car ready to drive off and got into the car with them. He had blood on his shoes.

Because it was dark and the street was crowded, few people had a clear perspective on what actually happened. For the most part, eyewitness testimony of the dozens of partygoers at the scene described a similar timeline: a party got out of hand, things got heated, Haltom and two others got stabbed.

One of the victims was treated by paramedics. Another victim, 21-year-old Joe Eodice, was in the hospital for about a week recovering from his injuries. Haltom, 20, died at the scene.

99 Years

The morning after the party, Navarro was arrested and charged with murder. Since his family was poor, he relied on a court-appointed defense attorney.

The prosecution wanted to try 15-year-old Navarro as an adult. Before a juvenile can be tried as an adult, the juvenile court must hold a hearing and certify a set of criteria laid out by the state. If the court decides that a juvenile can be tried as an adult, the judge then submits a waiver of jurisdiction – sometimes referred to as a transfer order – to waive the juvenile court’s jurisdiction over the case and transfer the juvenile to an adult criminal court.

During Navarro’s five-day hearing in Fort Bend County’s juvenile court, administrators at Katy Junior High, where he went to school, took the stand. They testified that he read at a fourth-grade level but could do 12th-grade math. He had flunked twice. He skipped class and got into fights. A few months before the stabbing, a fight on the bus had landed him on probation.

During his certification hearing, Navarro’s prosecutor, Fort Bend district attorney Tyra McCollum, said that the law says transferring a child to adult court is up to the judge’s discretion. But in this case, the judge had no choice, McCollum said.

“I believe that justice says that transfer of this young man is, in fact, mandatory, not discretionary,” McCollum told the judge. “It is mandatory because the facts surrounding this case suggest that there is no other remedy other than transfer.”

The judge agreed with her and certified Navarro, then 16, to stand trial as an adult. With no chance to appeal, he was moved to county jail to await trial.

Navarro’s defense attorney, Maggie Jaramillo, convinced him that a trial in the adult court was a good idea. Navarro still remembers his attorney telling him why:

“She told me, ‘If we go to trial they are going to look at you as a child with these grown men and they are not going to convict you,’” Navarro says. “She was like, ‘Think about it, are they gonna convict you?’ And I’m like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know the law. I don’t know nothing about the law.’ And I bought it.”

But the court didn’t buy it. Navarro – tried as an adult – was found guilty of murder. Then, the judge sentenced Navarro: 99 years.

When he heard the jury hand down the sentence, Navarro says he was in shock.

“All I remember is when they told me 99,” Navarro says, “I told my lawyer, ‘This can’t be legal.’ And she said it’s legal. And I was like, ‘It can’t be. … I’d rather be dead.’”

Hannah McBride/Texas Standard

“It’s a Question of What’s Easiest”

What happened to Navarro wasn’t an anomaly – particularly when it comes to juveniles who are tried as adults in Texas.

The state changed laws outlining juvenile justice statutes in 1995. Harris County public defender Cheri Duncan says after those revisions, juvenile certifications – the process of a how a court determines if a juvenile should be considered an adult at trial – no longer had an automatic appeal. Kids who were certified had no way to change that decision until after their case was resolved in adult court. So with the stroke of a pen, a kid could be labeled an adult and face the penalties of the adult justice system, with no recourse.

These revisions to the juvenile code, Duncan says, prompted juvenile courts to move through certifications quickly. She says it’s a function of two of the attitudes in juvenile courts across Texas back then. “The first is this tough-on-crime attitude that swept the country during the Reagan era, and we wanted to be tough even on kids committing crime. So 14-year-olds can be certified as adults in certain circumstances,” she says. “The other is – I think it’s a question of what’s easiest. What costs less, how do we move those cases. It’s a lot easier to have a form to fill out and move the kid on up the line.”

Until very recently, the state made a habit of streamlining juvenile certifications. Some lawyers called the process rubber-stamping: fast-tracking the process of the pivotal decision that determines whether kids should be tried as adults, funneling them from juvenile court into criminal court.

In some counties, such as Harris County, the assessment was a one-page, fill-in-the-blank document – no individual consideration needed. From 1997 to 2007, about 93 percent of requested juvenile certifications were granted in Harris County. This statistic, justice reform advocates argue, is an example of an assembly line-style process.

Across the state, rubber-stamping could take a more subtle form. Rather than full hearings that allowed both sides to present a case, some juveniles had a single day in front of a judge. A prosecuting attorney may bring only a few witnesses against a defense attorney’s long list of witnesses. Juvenile judges, in some cases, decided to certify a child based merely on the crime, rather than its circumstances.

Duncan says, in general, county prosecutors have little incentive to keep children in the juvenile system.

“It’s somebody else’s problem if it gets transferred to adult court,” she says. “Prosecutors don’t get rewarded for giving leniency, they just don’t. … So there’s no incentive at all, really, aside from a person’s own internal moral convictions as a prosecutor, to do the right thing.”

On a statewide level, cases in which a juvenile is tried as an adult are hard to track. Each time a juvenile case is transferred to the adult courts, the paperwork starts over.

“When I got to looking for the last years I was able to get data for, the records I was given from Harris County Juvenile probation office did not match the number that was reported to the state,” Duncan says. “We never were really able to figure out what happens or why that happens. … Best estimates, we are talking about hundreds of cases a year across Texas.”

Records obtained from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department show that 5,244 juveniles were certified as adults in Texas between 1995 and 2015 – an average of five cases a week for two decades.

The year Navarro was certified – 2008 – had the highest number of certifications in Texas in the last 15 years. That year, Navarro was among 277 juveniles who were certified statewide.

Not every child who stands trial as an adult is convicted, and each county keeps its own records of those cases. Those numbers aren’t compiled in a single place, but Duncan says Navarro, now serving a long sentence that he may never have received in juvenile court, isn’t alone.

“That’s a whole lot of people who are serving time in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice,” Duncan says, “whose cases may, honestly, never should have been certified in the first place.”

Beth Cortez-Neavel & Allyson Michele/Texas Standard

Trying a Kid as an Adult

Going back over Navarro’s case, it’s easy to get the impression that it was somehow fast-tracked.

Juvenile court judges in Texas must weigh each of four factors in a certification: whether there’s evidence the child committed the crime; the seriousness of the offense; the sophistication and maturity of the child; and the prospect of the child’s rehabilitation.

Navarro’s certification document is eight pages long, but gives no evidence from the five days of argument and testimony at his certification hearing. It affirms that the criteria were met, but offers no detail as to how or why. It contains scant information about the underlying crime itself, aside from an outline of the facts. As required by law, social and psychological evaluations were completed and given to the court, but no details from those documents were included in his certification.

Later, when the case went to trial, Matheson says the jury was never told about Navarro’s theory of self-defense against multiple assailants, which could have factored into the verdict.

The juvenile judge didn’t change the charges in the case from murder to involuntary manslaughter – which could be a self-defense situation – so when Miguel was transferred to adult court, the jury at his criminal trial wasn’t asked to determine whether he was guilty of manslaughter or even whether he acted in self-defense. They were convened to judge Navarro’s case based on the charges of first-degree murder and aggravated assault. Also, Navarro did not testify on his own behalf so the jury never heard from him during the murder trial.

Just before his 19th birthday, Navarro was transferred to the maximum security Connally Unit in Kenedy, Texas, to serve out his 99-year prison sentence. He was young enough, he says, that he didn’t have any facial hair yet.

A Way Out

Navarro, now 24, is 5’ 3’’ and small-framed. When we speak to him, he’s in handcuffs and ankle restraints. He’s nervous and sweaty. His brown eyes well up with tears when we ask him about that night. To this day, he still doesn’t know why he stabbed and killed Matthew Haltom.

Navarro knows he could have left the party, but he saw his brother getting beaten. Out of instinct, he says he went over to fend off his brother’s attackers.

“I don’t know, and there’s no logical reason in my mind why I went,” Navarro says. “It’s my bro, it’s all I can say. When I went, he was on the floor and they were kicking him. … That’s just one thing to this day that doesn’t register. You can call it loyalty, you can call it a bond between my brother. I don’t know.”

In the early years of his sentence, Navarro says he kept his head down, visiting the law library during the day and reading case books in his cell at night. But prison life still weighs on him.

Most of his friends from the outside still haven’t visited and often his family can’t make the three-hour drive from Katy to Kenedy to see him. He says being in prison at such a young age sunk him into depression.

“You’re young. You don’t know what life consists of,” Navarro says. “You don’t know what life is gonna bring – especially in these type of environments. And you learn to hate everything.”

Despite trying to keep to himself, Navarro’s time in prison hasn’t been without incident. In 2013, he filed a civil lawsuit. He says that on a cold January day, he asked the guards to shut a window. They refused, so he went to the guard’s supervisor. He says the guards weren’t happy and they beat him in retaliation.

Cases like this, in which prisoners represent themselves, often don’t get far. They can be dismissed early on because the claim doesn’t have merit or because of procedural technicalities. But Navarro represented himself for more than two years, and a few weeks before his case went to trial, he met his appointed counsel: Clayton Matheson, a San Antonio lawyer.

“I had never been in a prison before,” Matheson says. “So dealing with that shock was the first thing I remember.”

At the time Matheson was a young, inexperienced attorney, specializing in commercial litigation. But he wanted trial experience, so he volunteered to represent prisoners in civil cases. Matheson’s first case was Navarro’s.

“He was serving a 99-year sentence,” Matheson says. “For a lot of people that would take away all sense of hope. Why would you even bother on a little lawsuit to try to vindicate your rights? But he was determined to do that. And it was inspiring.”

They ended up losing Navarro’s suit. It’s not uncommon when prisoners attempt to sue guards, but Matheson took the loss hard.

“It was devastating,” Matheson says. “We were hopeful to the moment the verdict was read – and I remember looking at him and I felt that I let him down.”

After the lawsuit ended, Matheson stayed in contact with Navarro. And Navarro kept researching ways to appeal his original murder conviction. He looked up the criminal statutes concerning juveniles, which are outlined in the Texas Family Code.

“I had been researching 55.02, Family Code,” Navarro says. “There’s elements, factors that had to be met in order for them to certify you. It’s a Moon case. Gave me hope.”

A Moon case – as in Cameron Moon. He’s another teenager in Texas who was tried as an adult and his conviction was at the heart of a landmark opinion from the state’s highest criminal court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. For Navarro, it offered a way out.

Last August, Navarro sent Matheson a letter about Moon:

“Would you look over it and tell me why my argument wouldn’t work? … I believe I found the key that should open the door for me to make it out sooner than expected.”

Courtesy Clayton Matheson

Moon v. State

In 2008, 16-year-old Cameron Moon shot and killed Christopher Seabreak, 20, in a drug deal gone awry. Moon was tried as an adult, convicted, and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Appealing his conviction, his attorneys argued that Moon should never have been tried as an adult in the first place – that the courts needed to show a good reason why he was not able to be rehabilitated before they could send him to an adult prison.

In the end, the courts agreed. The case created a precedent, changing how the state views juveniles in the criminal justice system. The opinion stated that juvenile judges can’t transfer children to criminal court “merely for the sake of judicial economy. … Such a notion is the very antithesis of the kind of individualized assessment of the propriety of waiver of juvenile jurisdiction [expected] of the juvenile court in the exercise of its transfer discretion.”

The Moon decision put state legislators into action. In 2015, they passed Senate Bill 888, a law that said juvenile defendants could appeal their certification before they went to trial as an adult. Going forward, kids who had been tried as adults would get a chance to repeal that decision before having to go through a full trial in criminal court, giving them the opportunity to stay in the juvenile system.

Michele Deitch, a professor with the Lyndon B. Johson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, specializes in criminal justice policy. She says the Moon case changed the playbook for juveniles in court.

“It is a very rare – and should be a very rare occurrence – to put a youth in the adult criminal justice system,” Deitch says. “What Moon does is to better ensure that the system is in fact only allowing the most serious, and dangerous, and irredeemable youth to make it to that point in the system – where they are transferred to the adult court. And if that is to happen, it’s making sure that there is a fair process that allows an appellate court to look at this and decide if a decision was fairly made.”

Navarro had written Matheson to ask him to look over the Moon case but Matheson had never heard of it. Matheson wanted to look at the transfer orders from Moon’s and Navarro’s certifications side by side.

“I remember staring at the first paragraph and saying ‘That’s familiar,’” Matheson says. “Second paragraph: ‘Ok, they are saying the same thing.’ I’m sort of getting more and more excited as I went through the orders. By the end, I think I immediately got on the computer and emailed the team, said ‘Guys, you have to read these two orders!’ I attached the two orders – and lots of exclamation points.”

One of the grounds for Navarro’s appeal deals with the specific language from his certification, also known as a waiver of jurisdiction. In a memo to the court filed with his case, Navarro’s lawyers lay out six passages from Moon’s waiver that use much of the same language as the juvenile judge used in Navarro’s waiver. Neither includes supporting information to back up the judge’s conclusions.

In other words, the juvenile court didn’t show its work by setting out sufficient evidence in Navarro’s waiver. This notion of requiring the court to “show its work” is at the heart of the Moon decision. So the argument from Moon suggests Navarro shouldn’t have been transferred to adult court at all.

Essentially, Navarro and his attorneys argue that the same thing that happened to Moon happened in his case: that he had been sped through the process to try him as an adult.

Forging Ahead

Trying Navarro’s case at the state’s highest criminal court means forging through uncharted waters, Matheson says. Navarro’s case could be the first case heard at the Court of Criminal Appeals post-Moon.

When the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated Moon’s conviction in December 2014, Moon’s case went back to the juvenile courts. Four months later, he was recertified as an adult and now his case is pending in Harris County court.

Only one juvenile certification appeals case has been decided post-Moon, in the lower courts: an armed robbery conviction of a 16-year-old, also in Harris County. The 14th Court of Appeals in Houston vacated that conviction as well, sending that case back to juvenile court. But no cases relating to Moon have reached the state’s highest criminal court yet.

For now, it’s a waiting game. The nine-person Court of Criminal Appeals received three volumes of court records for Navarro’s case on September 12. Navarro’s lawyers said his case was recommended for further review, clearing the first major hurdle to make its way in front of the court’s judges. After a case is recommended for review, the court must then decide to hear it. Whether the court actually hears the case is a long shot – in the 2016 fiscal year, the court reviewed only about seven percent of those it was asked to grant further review.

Matheson says if the court hears the case and if they win, Navarro won’t walk – at least not that day. But the court’s decision will determine more than just what happens to Navarro.

“If the Court of Criminal Appeals finds, as we think it should, that those boilerplate forms are unconstitutional,” Matheson says, “there would be, I suspect, hundreds, if not thousands, of people currently incarcerated, individuals in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system, that would have an immediate right to challenge or appeal their convictions on the exact same grounds.”

Attorneys are starting to see that what happened to Navarro didn’t happen in a vacuum. Duncan says that in the last couple of months, the Harris County Public Defender’s Office has been inundated with letters from people who were arrested as kids and tried as adults, asking if they can have their cases reviewed under the same precedent.

“Anything’s Better Than 99 Years”

Even if Navarro is recertified and retried, he will be coming at his case as a different person – having grown from a 15-year-old kid with a fourth-grade reading level to a 24-year-old man helping mount his own legal defense.

Matheson says one of the most difficult conversations he’s had with Navarro was this summer, after they officially filed their case at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Navarro was convinced he’d be released if the court ruled in his favor. But a likelier scenario, Matheson says, is that his case would go back to the local courts – just as Cameron Moon’s had. In that situation, the best outcome for Navarro may be taking a plea agreement. That could mean another 10 or 20 years in prison at least.

“It is what it is,” Matheson says, sighing. “Anything’s better than 99 years.”

Navarro admits he’s scared of the Court of Criminal Appeals denying to hear his case, because it’d be another setback and make odds even slimmer that he’d be able to get a lighter sentence. But Navarro’s also scared of a denial because he won’t be able to try his argument in court. If his argument doesn’t work, he at least wants to know why. A denial won’t give him that chance.

Navarro keeps several copies of filings from the Moon case in his cell, which he has reread dozens of times.

“It gives you hope,” Navarro says. “The days that I get down, I read it and I try to figure out how are they going to tell me no or try to argue that it can’t happen.”

Navarro says mounting his own Moon case – and bringing it to lawyers committed to helping him – has also given him a glimmer of hope.

“It’s like, you’ve had so much bad, you’re expecting bad,” he says. “It’s pitch black out but there’s a star.”

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  • Francis Graham February 16, 2017 at 9:22 am

    If my loved one were killed by a child, say, a ten year old, and I am asked, wouldn’t I want the murderer to be in prison for a long time? No, I am civilized, and civilized people do not incarcerate children for life. But Navarro was 16, not ten. Perhaps a sliding scale should have been used. Some time, some substanial time, but not essentailly life. I guess that makes me a moderate. 99–essentially life — is too long. Would 20 be enough? I am sorry for the victims. I hear their pain and anger.

  • Jordan February 6, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    It’s about time more people took on the haphazard juvenile justice system in Texas.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this actually causes the CCA to take another look at the case, because it maintains a dangerous precedent. I’m glad to see the extra focus on juvenile defendants this reporting is bringing is already getting action from concerned legislators with Gene Wu’s proposed reform legislation: http://www.house.texas.gov/news/member/press-releases/?id=5993

    Trying kids as adults is a lamentable legal occurrence that many other countries, and most other states, are able to do much better on than us. We need to ensure that, at the very least, our loose restrictions on it are actually followed, and kids are not sentenced to endlessly rot in prison because a judge didn’t want to consider everything he’s legally required to. It’s too easy for people to disappear from public consideration once they leave court, especially as more prisons work to limit journalist and even family access. They need their stories told too, especially when the law is not fairly applied.

    The prosecutor presented this as a case where “the system works when you allow it to work.” I don’t believe rubber-stamping applications to treat as many juveniles as possible as adults for expediency and ease of court proceedings is the definition of a justice system “working.” How easy it might make your job should be nowhere near the considerations of whether or not to take away 80+ years of someone’s life.

    America and Somalia are the only two U.N. countries not to ratify the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which would prevent the government from sentencing children to life in prison. Instead, the U.S. is the only country in the world that actually has children sentenced to life in prison (at least 2,500 of them, currently), and last I checked, it hasn’t stopped America from having the world’s biggest prison population. It doesn’t reduce crime rates, doesn’t increase rehabilitation rates, and is simply a tool of either the simplest way to not have to deal with a troubled individual, or a tool of vengeance, neither of which should have a place in our justice system. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/20/juvenile-life-without-parole_n_3962983.html

  • Ronda December 25, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    BULLSHIT

  • Matthew Haltom December 23, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    The more I read this bullshit story the angrier I get. What gives any of you reporters, editors, producers or lawmakers the right to put this shit in print. Sensational journalism is dangerous and it is an attempt to draw attention to this whining thug who is in jail and should never get out. Feel sorry for him? How about my son? I don’t get to see him graduate from college, get married, have children? Who gave the thug the right to take away a life that was 20 years old? My son would have done a lot more good for our society than this piece of shit. I see you interviewed his brother, Lupe? Tell that Bitch that I am sick of his lies and acting so innocent. WHY DONT YOU REPORTERS INTERVIEW SOMEONE WHO TELLS THE TRUTH? LETS SEE THE DRUG DEALER OR THE MURDERER, HUM! YOU INTERVIEWED BOTH OF THEM. Get the lies off the internet or allow a response with the truth. These are trash, bottom feeders, i PRAY THAT THERE IS NO WAY HE GETS A RETRIAL, A FAMILY SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO BURY THEIR CHILDREN, THEY DAMN SURE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DO IT TWICE.

  • S.A.S. December 22, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    I was at the sentencing hearing, so I know he did get to spout his crappy lies to the jury there and they STILL gave him 99 years. Why? Because the evidence proves he’s lying. The victims were stapped from BEHIND, that isn’t self-defense. He talked to friends about going to the party to stab some white kids. Friends who testified against him. It wasn’t a split second decision or self-defense. He is a cold-blooded killer.

  • Patricia Hardmeyer December 22, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    I agree, this article is full of misinformation, and errors. Totally inaccurate. I spent quite a bit of time with Miguel immediately after the event and can assure you, it did not happen as depicted here.

  • Johnny Prejean December 22, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    When you commit murder, what difference does it make how old you are? He killed someone. He did it on purpose. That person is just as dead as if the murderer was 30 or 40. He committed the crime with the passion of a killer. Age means nothing here. Again, any of you IDIOTS, that are asking for this murderer to be retried, ask yourself how you would feel if this happened to your family. If this happened to your son or brother. I’ve always found that Liberal thoughts come from those with no experience in pain or suffering. My inclination is to yell at you for your idiocy. I truly can’t believe what I’m reading from some of you.

  • Anonymous December 22, 2016 at 10:29 am

    NOT TO MENTION AT HIS FAMILY HOME HE WAS MURDERED.

  • Matthew Haltom December 22, 2016 at 10:15 am

    The errors in this article are flagrant and should be retracted in their in full. The audible was so appalling that I got sick listening to it. I find it comical that Texas Standard can go all the way to Kenedy Texas to interview a convicted murderer and cannot take the time to talk to the victims families. The information presented was false and the people should be held accountable for the lies put forth by these reporters and the Texas Standard. Being liberal does not always mean stupidity. I would ask the editor David Brown, to contact me and allow me to present the true version of what happened and why this man does not deserve to get out. When you make a mistake and do something wrong, what is the first thing you do if you recognize the error? THERE HAS NEVER BEEN ANY REMORSE OR APOLOGY TO THE VICTIMS FAMILIES FOR KILLING AND STABBING PEOPLE AT THE PARTY. HE IS A SOCIOPATH AND A LIAR. PLEASE CONTACT DAVID BROWN @ [email protected] AND TELL HIM TO GIVE ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO TELL THE TRUTH. I also would interject that NO ONE was contacted at the Fort Bend County Prosecutors office and my family was never contacted to offer a rebuttal or honest opinion.

    • Daisy December 23, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Just because it is your side of the story does not mean it is the right one. Are you mad because this article does not state your side of the story? Which in your eyes is the right one. Only the man up above knows the truth of exactly what happened that night. What kind of parent allows their child and other kids smoke weed? I have a son of my own and know for a fact that smoking weed is illegal and would never allow that in my home. Just know that two life’s were lost that night. One being your son’s and the other being Manuel’s. An apology will not bring your son back or change anything that happened that night.

      • Matthew Haltom December 24, 2016 at 4:59 am

        Daisy Duke, I want the truth and you are wrong there was seven lives lost that night. Who are you to question wether my side is the right one? I was there, were you? If smoking pot was allowed at my house then you would be correct. It’s not, does that mean it does not happen? No! The only person with pot in their system was Navarro.

    • Truth and Lies December 28, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      First off, I want to say I’m very sorry for your loss no one should have to go threw that. And 2nd what you’re saying about these kids as a grown person is not ok! And 3rd what you’re saying is not correct either by stating those lies. You were not there, and did not have a gun in your face! You were inside asleep! So you, yourself did not see what happened. And these kids that showed up to the party were invited, by a girl at the party who’s name I will not mention. And as soon as they showed up they were not wanted and the botttles and the name calling started….. so it started off bad as soon as they got there! And a group of “men” went and started to surround these kids, so it was going to already go bad! There were name calling and punches and kicks both ways… so when a group of “men” jump kids it does turn into a self defense situation! It should have not happened and never have gotten to this point! And some very serious things happened that night should not have! But what happened to him E shouldn’t have either he was a kid who got tried as an adult and should receive a fair trial…

  • Anonymous December 22, 2016 at 9:30 am

    This is a joke

  • Anonymous December 22, 2016 at 9:23 am

    This is honestly just shoddy and lazy journalism. It’s clear that nobody involved with writing this even bothered to crack open a case file, read any of the news reports from that time, or contact anybody but the assailant and his brother. Good journalism presents the full story. This was clearly presented as click-bait and to make a statement about change, but change that shouldn’t be applied to this case. If you think juvenile law in Texas is flawed, fine. But pick a better case to prove your point, because this one clearly was tried correctly the first time.

  • You comit the crime you do the time December 22, 2016 at 2:04 am

    I believe this young man should do the time, since he committed the crime. If you look across the nation you’ll see an increase of crime coming from juveniles around the age he was when he committed this crime. He took someone’s life and here we are arguing about if he should be giving a second chance? Does the victim get a second chance? This was an individual who was constantly getting into trouble at school and associating himself with gangs. I have two teenage sons, and never would they ever feel the need to bring a knife with them to a party. How many decent 15 year olds decide to walk around with a knife? The only reason someone so young would think of carrying a weapon, is because they intend to use it, or because they’re known to put themselves in situation where they would have to use it. I wished the legal system had done a better job of documenting the reason why he was sent to adult court, but this time around I feel they will justify it. I’m praying that they do not even hear his case. It would be a waste of time. So many times we see on the news, individuals who commit crimes and come to find out, they’ve been incarcerated several times and have been released earlier. Then we say to ourselves ” Why the heck are these people even apart of our society?” If this young man is giving a chance, then it will open up the floodgates for numerous convictions to be overturned. Which will then lead to havong these individuals (rehabilitated or not) return to our society. The justice system really needs to think long and hard about this one before making such a decision.

  • JB December 21, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    His accounts of that night are completely false. Where are his comments on the stolen car they were in, or the pistol they brought to the party as well?

  • Allison Carter December 21, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Really? Really???!!?? Sympathy for this murderer? Not a chance.

  • John Doe December 21, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    I testified against Navarro. His accounts for that night are completely false. I will be keeping up with this case, and I will be present if his case is reopened.

  • Matthew Haltom December 21, 2016 at 11:38 am

    The only thing insane is the comments from people who have no idea what the murder of my son did to my family and his friends. The article is a bunch of lies. I guess the Texas Standard does not want to report the truth.

    • You comit the crime you do the time December 22, 2016 at 2:11 am

      I am truly sorry for your loss. I’m sorry that you’re having to relieve this again. These individuals know not what they do to families when they try to appeal and get out if doing their time for their crime. Once again, they’re showing that it’s all about them, as they have shown while committing such an unspeakable crime. Once again I’m sorry for your loss. My family and I will keep you in our prayers.

  • Matthew Haltom December 21, 2016 at 10:37 am

    This comment has been edited by Texas Standard staff for legal reasons.

    First of all the article written is full of lies and half truths. My son was the one murdered and they are worried about the dark days in prison for Navarro? Bullshit, he should have been put to death. His murder was a crime that was one stabbing and life flight away from capital murder of two people. He is lying about how my son was stabbed and the events at my home. They were at the party smoking weed for three to four hours. [Removed] I was there and had a gun pointed at my face by the driver of the car who transported Navarro away from the party. The gun was discharged at the party. The entire group was thugs, people who were not invited to my house and came anyway. I was at the certification, I was at the entire trial of Navarro. He was offered a plea deal of 40 years and he declined the offer. He got 99 years by a 12 member jury. [Removed] The court appointed attorney is now a District Judge in Fort Bend County. If she was not qualified to defend him then I guess she certainly should not be a judge? THE ENTIRE ARTICLE IS LIE AFTER LIE. GET THE FACTS BEFORE YOU PRINT A STORY. HE STABBED MY SON FROM THE BACK, MY SON WAS NOT ON TOP OF THIS PERSON. THE SECOND PERSON STABBED WAS STABBED IN THE BACK AND WAS NOT ANYWHERE NEAR MY SON. THIS IS A SAD CASE OF SHITTY JOURNALISM.

    • Anonymous December 22, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      I think your adding more lies to the story you were a sleep while you let your son have a drug and alcohol party for under age kids. And you allowed it is you at fault also. Your neighbors even said it

      • Anonymous December 25, 2016 at 12:01 am

        Anonymous, what you say is a lie. Are you afraid to show your name? We did not provide alcohol or drugs. We let our college age son have a party. MY ONLY FAULT WAS NOT BEING THERE TO PROTECT MY SON FROM A MURDERER AND HIS FRIENDS. I WILL NEVER RECOVER FROM THAT MISTAKE.

      • Ronda December 25, 2016 at 12:30 pm

        So your saying its their fault their son hot murdered. Really your probably one of the reason miguel is the way he is. Get your fact straight.

    • Truth vs Lies December 28, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      First off, very sorry about your loss, nobody should have to go threw the pain of losing a child. But what you’re putting out there is some lies now. There was no gun in your face! And a group of thugs? Seriously these were a bunch of kids! And kids who were invited to the party by a girl there, not going to mention names….. and you allowed your son to throw a party and always have let him and let alcohol be there cause that’s what was going on for years! And they were not there for hours at all, these guys were there and got called all kinds of names, f*** Mexicans, beaners, etc, and a group of guys went at them, so what do you think they thought when a group of “men” surround them talking shit!? What happened wasn’t right in both parties! A lot of things went wrong that night, and the truth will come out eventually….. but what happens to this CHILD at the time was not ok, should have been tried as a CHILD, and got rehabilitated…. he deserves a fair trial.

  • Elea Lee December 20, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Reports from the Houston Chronicle about Navarro’s trial cite a record of violence from the 6th grade. Navarro was also on probation which meant that a juvenile probation officer should have gone through a probationary statement with him which would have included curfew issues, parental supervision, and an absolute prohibition against drugs, alcohol, and weapons.

    Navarro’s court appointed attorney is now a (district?) judge? More information on her involvement in the story would help listeners understand which she made significant recommendations to her stated client which were clearly not home-run wins for him. Why did this case go to a jury trial instead of a plea bargain?

    And finally, your story will remain incomplete until you look at the radical changes made to the Texas juvenile system in 2007-8. The juvenile system is now largely “sheltering in place” juvenile offenders to save money on incarceration. Juvenile offenders (and the system itself) gets substantial benefits from laws sheltering juvenile process and records from FOIA requests.

  • Brittney McMahon December 20, 2016 at 1:43 am

    A very sad story. I’m putting out positive energy that his case will be chosen and he will be released. Almost 10 years he’s served. 10 years for a child who made a bad impulse decision out of fear. This stuff happens too much. System is f’d. Could happen to anyone.

    • Mac December 22, 2016 at 2:56 am

      You have no idea what you are talking about. I was there. Nobody was on top of his brother and he didn’t act out impulsively to protect his brother. His brother was on the other side of the street while he was stabbing 2 people IN THE BACK. This was after stabbing Matthew Haltom 9 times. He was on probation for slapping a girl in the face on the school bus. You cannot rehabilitate someone that has never been habilitated in the first place. If he released, he will kill again.

    • You comit the crime you do the time December 22, 2016 at 9:24 am

      It can’t happen to anyone. Only those with criminal intent, or those dead set on not living and becoming successful members of society. I for one hip his case does not get chosen.

  • Michelle leclair December 19, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Insane, inhumane and I’m a retired Police Officer…SMDH

  • Jerry December 19, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    I work in one of the correctional facilities in Texas and this is a typically sad narrative of a lot of convicts in the Texas Criminal Justice system. I think he should be retried as a minor. The lack of video evidence in most correctional institutions is an unfortunate reason why most civil law suits filed against the TDCJ are not successful. I think the Connally unit ‘should’ have cameras in the dining hall.
    P.S. I heard the narrator of this story call workers in correctional institutions ‘guards’. This is wrong. Please we are called ‘Correctional Officers’.

  • Louisa Cauvin December 19, 2016 at 1:34 am

    Please do not read this comment on the air. The story does not seem logical to me. Salazar said there were people with golf clubs and bats, yet we have heard nothing about injuries due to golf clubs and bats, which could well be lethal. Yet we do know that Miguel Navarro went to a party armed with a knife. I and all people I know have never gone to a party armed with a knife or any other weapon. Yet it seems extreme to sentence a 15 year old to 99 years in prison. Can someone like Miguel be rehabilitated? Does previous experience with juveniles like Miguel indicate that he can successfully be rehabilitated? That’s the question to ask.

    • Mac December 22, 2016 at 2:58 am

      You cannot be rehabilitated when you were never habilitated to begin with. And Miguel was never habilitated.

  • Linda Norelli December 18, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    99 years for a minor, for a first offense is outrageous! And perhaps racial … Miguel should have a second chance as a child …

    • Mac December 22, 2016 at 3:02 am

      He as offered 40 and declined thinking he deserved a better deal and would get a better deal at trial. 99 years is outrageous when you purposely stabbed a human 9 times and killed them? If he stabbed and murdered your family member in your front yard on your private property when asked to leave since he was an uninvited stranger, would you feel the same way? Matt doesn’t come back to life after 99 years. He took a life. He murdered a grandson, a son, a brother, a friend, and a boyfriend.

    • Ronda December 25, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      REALLY. It might be a different story if it was your child. This was not his first offese or fight they left and came back which makes it premeditated. So no I dont like he got to much i think he shouldve got more. He never said sorry or showd remore but hey i bet thats coming cause everyone has said something about it. So wait for it. He is a liar and killer and dosent care about someones life.