DALLAS — A teen accused in multiple rapes and the murder of a 23-year-old woman will be tried as an adult, a Dallas County judge ruled Tuesday.
After a two-day hearing, Judge Andrea Martin certified 16-year-old Lenario Washington as an adult.
Authorities say Washington is connected to at least five rapes – three of which took place in Dallas and two in Bossier City, La. – dating back to 2018. Prosecutors say Washington would charm his way into women's homes and then hold them at gunpoint as he assaulted them.
The teen was charged in the capital murder of Maria Ezquerro, who was found dead in November 2018 inside her apartment near the Dallas Galleria. Washington was 15 at the time of the crime.
"It's a sad thing," said Juana Garcia, a friend of Ezquerro's family. "He's a very disturbed young man who did this atrocity. And very sad for Maria. She was really a beautiful person in and out and she didn't deserve that."
Photos posted on Washington's Instagram account around the time he was allegedly assaulting women show him smiling and flashing money.
"It's devilish," Garcia said of Washington's alleged crimes. "It's a way to describe it. Defies the imagination."
Washington's defense attorney asked the judge to keep the case in juvenile court. He said his client could be rehabilitated and monitored in a juvenile jail and then sent to an adult prison afterward for up to 40 years.
But the judge ruled against the defense, saying Washington posed a threat to the public.
The teen now faces up to life in prison without parole if he's convicted.
Ezquerro's family and friends were emotional after the decision.
"We are happy detectives did an awesome job and the police were very good," said Maria Garcia, a family friend. "And we are happy."