FORT WORTH — A juvenile court judge familiar with criticism drew more of it on Wednesday morning.
Judge Jean Boyd got national attention weeks ago when she sentenced 16-year-old Ethan Couch to probation after his drunk driving crash killed four people and left another paralyzed.
On Wednesday, she drew protests from prosecutors and a victim's relatives after closing her courtroom to media during another death case.
Nicholas Anderson, 17, was robbed and fatally beaten with a hammer last year by a 16-year-old who was already on probation for arson.
"This particular individual should have been tried as an adult," said Anderson’s grandmother, Lyndia Thomas.
Prosecutors agreed with the victim's family. They tried to have the teen certified as an adult when the case came up shortly after Couch’s sentencing.
Judge Boyd closed her courtroom for that hearing, citing concerns that media coverage could affect potential jurors.
Anderson’s family was disappointed that his case could not be covered.
"I felt she should not have the right to close this one just because it was the next biggest case,” said Anderson’s aunt, Sonya Burns.
Anderson's relatives were angry and surprised again Wednesday when Judge Boyd once again closed her courtroom — not only to reporters, but also to the district attorney's own spokeswoman. That's despite the fact there was no jury trial.
Anderson's killer pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement.
"We objected strongly to the closure of the courtroom for this proceeding," said prosecutor Brock Groom. "It's the policy of the District Attorney of Tarrant County that courtrooms be open to the public. It's in the Texas Constitution."
Groom couldn't talk specifically about this case.
Prosecutors say judges do have authority to close their courtrooms in juvenile cases, but that it rarely happens.
An attorney for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram also objected to the judge’s decision.
Nicholas Anderson's family members said they feared that Judge Boyd would give the teenage killer a light sentence, but this time, the defendant had already agreed to serve up to 26 years.
"We were ecstatic that the DA was able to get them to agree to this, because we didn't trust the judge would give the type of time he needed — or any time," Anderson's grandmother, Lyndia Thomas, said.