The teen charged with murder in the stabbing death of Nathan Perdue early this year has been moved to adult criminal court following a transfer hearing that included testimony about the stabbing and other incidents.
Michael Hastey, now 17, was 16 when Perdue, 28, was killed on the corner of Mill Street and Main Street in Weaverville on Jan. 8 this year. Juveniles 16 and over charged with the most serious crimes can be transferred to adult court if certain criteria are met regarding sophistication and likelihood of rehabilitation within the timeframe the juvenile justice system has jurisdiction.
“The question of the minor’s guilt or innocence is not before the court this morning,” Judge Eric Heryford noted at the beginning of the transfer hearing last Thursday.
Trinity County Detective Josh Ford testified about the interactions between Hastey, Hastey’s 17-year-old girlfriend, and Perdue leading up to the stabbing. The three had spent some time together that day, Ford said.
Ford talked to the girlfriend, who said she and Hastey were at Hastey’s residence in Weaverville when she told him she had kissed Perdue, who asked her to call him if things didn’t work out with Hastey. Upon hearing that, Hastey got upset.
Ford interviewed Hastey, who acknowledged grabbing a knife and storming out of the house. The encounter with Perdue occurred less than a mile away after about a 10-minute walk, Ford said.
“He told me his intent was to kill Nathan Perdue,” Ford said, because Hastey believed that kissing the 17-year-old made Perdue a child molester.
“He told me he knew he was going to go to prison for the rest of his life,” Ford said.
Hastey estimated he’d stabbed Perdue about 30 times, Ford said. An autopsy on Perdue revealed more than 100 stab wounds.
In two separate tests the night of the incident, Hastey’s blood alcohol level came back 0.084 percent and 0.076 percent.
There was also testimony by two probation officers regarding efforts to help Hastey and regarding other offenses.
Hastey’s contact with the courts started in late 2016 with stealing and sharing alcohol with another minor. There was also a battery on an officer. A probation officer testified that in July 2017, Hastey was caught drinking and ran away, got a hammer and forced a victim he came upon to drive him to the Bay Area.
Between incidents, Hastey spent time at juvenile hall in Trinity and Shasta counties, on house arrest, and at a residential treatment program which he ran from. Various drug and alcohol programs and anger management programs that Hastey participated in were described. He was on probation living with his mother when Perdue was killed in January.
Juvenile Probation Officer Carolyn Atterberry said Hastey had seemed to be doing well and was preparing to attend Shasta College just before the killing.
She described him as “extremely smart. I believe the most intelligent kid I’ve ever came across.” But also said according to mental health professionals, “Something is not right with his processing dealing with anger.”
She said a mental health professional had diagnosed Hastey with several disorders including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to alleged abuse by his father. That expert recommended long-term residential treatment, but later when Hastey refused she was among the professionals who said other treatments could work, Atterberry said.
Another probation officer, Andrea Wheeler, testified as to why she found Hastey “unfit” for the juvenile justice system. In addition to all that occurred up to Hastey’s arrest the night Perdue was killed, she described repeated unprovoked attacks on other minors since then while in custody at the Shasta County Juvenile Hall.
But a clinical psychologist called by the defense, Dr. Michael Ramirez, said he evaluated Hastey in August and believes he is a good candidate for treatment in the juvenile justice system and has a better chance of rehabilitation there than prison.
Regarding treatment Hastey has had in the past, Ramirez said. “Hindsight. It was not adequate.”
“I find it hard to find any degree of sophistication related to the crime,” he said.
District Attorney Donna Daly noted that if Hastey were to be tried and convicted as a juvenile the court would lose jurisdiction over him at age 25, in seven and a half years.
In one exchange, she asked Dr. Ramirez, “You can’t say he’ll be rehabilitated?” and he responded, “Same as you can’t say that he won’t be.”
“Juvenile probation and the juvenile system have done everything they can for this minor,” Daly said.
Defense attorney Larry Olsen disagreed and questioned why Hastey was allowed to decide for himself he did not need treatment for PTSD. He brought up that shortly before Perdue’s death both Hastey and his mother had sought counseling for him from Trinity County Behavioral Health, but were turned down because he didn’t have Medi-Cal.
Ultimately, Judge Heryford found that all the criteria for transfer to adult court were met. There is an opportunity for Hastey to appeal this decision.
On Monday, Hastey appeared in adult court and Heryford read the charges of premeditated murder and special allegations of use of a deadly weapon. A different attorney has been arranged for by Hastey’s family, and so his plea was delayed until Dec. 4.
Now at Tehama County Juvenile Hall, his bail has been set by Judge Heryford at $1 million.