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Murder charge makes Gentry teen no ordinary kid, prosecutor argues

by Tracy Neal | January 21, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.

BENTONVILLE -- A Gentry teen will be tried as an adult in a shooting where one girl was killed and another injured, Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green ruled Friday.

Francisco Ochoa, 19, is charged as an adult with murder in the first degree, unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, terroristic act, battery and two counts of aggravated assault. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He's accused of shooting and killing Kathrine Pembleton on June 25, 2021. She was pronounced dead at Siloam Springs Regional Hospital. The other victim, a 17-year-old girl, was taken to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville, where she was treated and released, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Ochoa was 17 years old at the time of the shooting and prosecutors charged him as an adult.

Kent McLemore, Ochoa's attorney, filed a motion to transfer the case to juvenile court.

Dr. Lacey Willett, a forensic psychologist with the Arkansas State Hospital, completed a forensic evaluation on Ochoa. She testified Ochoa didn't display a mental disease or defect at the time of the shooting and is mentally fit to stand trial.

Silva Flores, Ochoa's mother, testified her son suffered from depression prior to the shooting. She said her son was a patient in a mental health facility for several days.

Jony Ochoa Sr. testified his son was never violent in their home.

McLemore said his client has no previous criminal history and isn't a danger to the public. He described his client as a normal teen boy at the time of the shooting and not extremely mature or sophisticated.

Tim McDonald, deputy prosecutor, said Ochoa is facing a murder charge, which separates him from a normal teen. Ochoa was mature and intelligent enough not to talk to police after the shooting, McDonald said.

A woman called 911 just before midnight June 25, 2021, saying her daughter's friends had been shot at 817B Whiterock St. in Siloam Springs, according to the probable cause affidavit. The woman's 17-year-old daughter told police a woman she identified as Karla Martinez had been arguing with a friend over some clothing.

Another 17-year-old girl told police she, Pembleton and the other shooting victim were sitting on the tailgate of a pickup outside the home when a car drove by without its lights on, then turned around. While passing the home again, someone in the car fired four to six shots, according to the affidavit.

Police searched Ochoa's car and found numerous shell casings that appeared to be of the same brand as a casing found at the shooting scene, according to the affidavit.

Martinez told police she and Ochoa went to the Whiterock Street house together the night of June 25 and were there for some time. She said Ochoa pulled out a gun as they were leaving, according to the affidavit.

Martinez, 20, of Decatur, is charged with criminal accomplice to murder in the first degree, unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, terroristic act and battery. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A jury trial is set for Sept. 11 for Ochoa and Martinez. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Sept. 5.

Martinez is being held in lieu of $200,000 bond in the Benton County Jail.

Ochoa was released from the Benton County Juvenile Detention Center after posting a $750,000 bond.


Print Headline: Teen can be tried in murder case

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