Wake-Up Call: Nathan Ybanez gets his week in court

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By June of 1998, sixteen-year-old Nathan Ybanez couldn't take it any more. So he called his friend, seventeen-year-old Eric Jensen, to get him out of the house. And he got out, all right: In separate trials, both boys were convicted of the murder of Julie Ybanez, as detailed in Luke Turf's "Headed for Trouble," and sent to prison for life -- since Colorado law then dictated that juveniles convicted of murder as adults must be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Although the Colorado Legislature has since changed that law to allow the possibility of parole, it did not work retroactively. And so Eric Jensen and Nate Ybanez find their only hope of ever experiencing a moment of adult life outside of prison lies in motions for a new trial or sentence reconsideration -- and today marks the start of a five-day hearing for Ybanez. No question the crime was heinous, but as Turf reported, there were issues of abuse in the Ybanez home that had never come out in the first trial -- and now, finally, may get aired in court.

The Colorado Legislature takes up other controversial issues this week, including a bill that would weaken the state's new rules for oil and gas drilling. Then, of course, there's the ongoing debate over the dwindling budget. And on Tuesday, February 24, online students come out in person for Cyberschools' Day at the Capitol. For more info, go to www.insightschools.net.

Also on Tuesday, you can contemplate the economic integration of Latin America at the Chamber of the Americas' Executive Forum Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza, with former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela Charles Shapiro on tap as the guest speaker (for info, call 303-462-1275). And as long as you're getting up early this week, you can hear Attorney General John Suthers at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 25 at a Colorado Civil Justice League breakfast. Call 303-317-3721 for details.

At 3 p.m. Thursday, February 26, "Elevate 2009, Climate Change and the New Frontiers of Urban Development," a two-day symposium on sustainable land use and real estate development, kicks off at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Find more information at colorado.edu/law/elevate. And while you're in Boulder, you can salute an author who writes so eloquently about the land: Tom McGuane will receive the 2009 Wallace Stegner Award from the Center of the American West at CU at 7 p.m., in the Mathematics Building, Room 100.

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