Prosecutors say they may offer plea deal to Nuñez in Jeremiah’s death

Jordan Anthony Nuñez sits in district court earlier this month while his attorney argue. State prosecutors said Friday they intend to offer him a plea deal. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

State prosecutors said Friday they intend to offer a plea deal to Jordan Anthony Nuñez, charged in the 2017 beating death of 13-year-old Jeremiah Valencia, even as they prepare seven new charges against him.

“There has not been a formal plea offer. We are getting there,” Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Padgett said at a pretrial conference in the case. “We did issue the defendant new target notices … and will present new charges to the grand jury in the near future.”

Nuñez attorney, Mark Earnest, asked state District Judge Matthew Wilson to set an emergency hearing before the grand jury is convened in order to consider evidence he would like the state to present on his client’s behalf.

Police found Valencia’s body in January 2018, crammed inside a plastic tub and buried in a shallow grave alongside a state road near his home in Nambé.

Nuñez initially was portrayed by prosecutors as being coerced and intimidated by his father, Thomas Wayne Ferguson, into helping beat and bury the boy.

But after Ferguson’s suicide in the Santa Fe County jail in April 2018, prosecutors shifted their focus to Nuñez, claiming he may have dealt the final blow that ended Jeremiah’s life.

His case is scheduled to go to trial in November.

Nuñez’s attorneys have said they intend to argue the young man, who is 21 now but was 19 at the time of Valencia’s death, didn’t have the mental capacity to form an intention to commit the crimes he is accused of — child abuse resulting in death, tampering with evidence and conspiracy.

They haven’t provided any details about the basis for that argument.

But defense attorneys said during a recent hearing that they have been exploring the impact childhood abuse had on Nuñez, including how he perceives the world and how he might have interacted with his father.

They also said they intend to call psychiatrist Jeffrey Rowe to testify at Nuñez’s trial. According to an online biography, Rowe is the supervising psychiatrist for the Juvenile Forensics Division of Behavioral Health Services in the County of San Diego.