AG Balderas Announces Teen Who Brutally Raped His Young Stepsister for Years Will Stay in Prison


Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216

Hobbs, NM – Attorney General Hector Balderas announced that yesterday the New Mexico Supreme Court agreed with the Office of the Attorney General’s arguments and affirmed the sentence of Joel Ira. Two decades ago, the then fifteen-year-old Joel Ira committed a series of brutal rapes stretching over the course of two years against his younger stepsister who lived in his household. He was convicted of multiple crimes and sentenced as an adult to 91 ½ years in prison. In 2015, he filed a habeas petition asking for his release based on a Supreme Court case from 2010, Graham v. Florida. In that case, the Supreme Court had announced a rule that juveniles who commit a non-homicide crime may not be sentenced with a lengthy period of incarceration, but rather must be afforded a “meaningful chance of parole.”

“Juveniles who commit horrific crimes like brutally raping a younger sibling must be held accountable and the Supreme Court agreed that the defendant is afforded a meaningful chance at parole,” said Attorney General Hector Balderas. “Sexual violence against young children will never be tolerated.”

Yesterday, the New Mexico Supreme Court decided that even juveniles who commit many crimes, as opposed to just one, also are entitled to the same meaningful chance for parole. However, the Supreme Court decided that Ira’s sentence, in which he is eligible to parole after 45 years, did afford him a meaningful chance at parole, given the crimes he committed and the evidence presented against him during his trial proceedings.

Assistant Attorney General Laurie Blevins handled the appeal for the Office of the Attorney General.

Please see attached for the Supreme Court opinion and a photo.

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