DALLAS - A Dallas teenager who is suspected of murder and a string of rapes will stand trial as an adult.
After listening to extremely disturbing testimony about how the teenagers allegedly hunted his victims and then violently assaulted them and his plans to hurt others, the judge said she felt the adult system was the only suitable option.
Investigators used DNA to link 16-year-old Lenario Washington to five rapes in Dallas and Bossier City, Louisiana. He was just 15 when the crimes were committed.
The DNA also linked Washington to the murder of 23-year-old Maria Ezquerro last November in North Dallas.
Judge Andrea Martin Lane certified Washington as an adult Wednesday morning. In her four and a half years on the bench, Washington is among just a handful of juveniles she has certified as an adult.
While Judge Martin Lane is known for giving kids a chance, she felt it was in the public's best interest to try Washington in an adult court because of the overwhelming amount of evidence.
"I did it with heavy heart," she said. "We are here to try to rehabilitate a child because we don't want to throw any child away."
During a court hearing Tuesday, detectives detailed how Washington asked women for help to gain access to their home. He then allegedly attacked them at gunpoint.
The detectives also testified that Washington pointed a gun at children in two cases. They said he threatened, "I will kill this 2-year-old if you don't give me sex."
Tuesday's testimony spelled out Washington's alleged MO of innocently asking for help and the women would open their doors and a gun would be shoved in their face.
"Because of the way he looked, his youthfulness, he was very conniving and used that against his victims," Martin Lane said. "He even told one of the victims who was trying to talk him out of it, ‘I've done this several times. I know the cops, and I'm not worried.' Because he had, and he'd never been caught."
Washington spent years in and out of CPS custody. He described becoming sexually deviant at a young age, telling evaluators he started watching porn at 8 or 9 years old.
The defense argued for rehabilitation in the juvenile system. But some of the most telling evidence about Washington's potential future behavior was a homemade shank made in juvenile detention and an assault-style rifle fashioned from pages of a book.
Washington's probation officer said he did not believe he could be rehabilitated, at least not at this time.
Ezquerro's family friend, Juan Garcia, says the decision brings some level of comfort to her parents.
"They don't really care about him, but I guess they do care that no more people get hurt," Garcia said.
Had Washington stayed in the juvenile system and was convicted of the crimes, he still would have been eligible for parole at 19 years old. It was a risk Martin Lane wasn't willing to take.
"If he's been escalating since 10 and he's about to be 17," she said. "Then I don't think that in two years we would have seen something significant to where society would be safe with him out on parole."
Washington will stay in juvenile detention until his seventeenth birthday in January. He'll then be moved to the Dallas County jail unless there's a petition to move him before that.