Juvenile Suspect in Carlsbad Hiker's Killing Likely to Face Trial as Adult, Attorney Says

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The teenager accused of stabbing a grandmother to death on a Carlsbad hiking trail last month will spend his second night in a cell Tuesday.

Details of the alleged homicide and what led investigators to their 17-year-old suspect are few, and any additional information we learn about what happened that morning depends on the courthouse that hears this case.

Folks having lunch and hiking at Hosp Grove Park where Lisa Thorbog, 68, was found with fatal stab wounds the morning of Nov. 23 say they woke up this morning relieved that a suspect had been caught, but also devastated -- devastated because that suspect is young enough to still be in high school.

NBC 7's Dave Summers shares reaction from the community, and the family of the victim.

“I would keep looking it up on my phone to see if they found out anything on what happened with that lady,” said Carlsbad mother Julie Capps.

She knew about Monday’s arrest before NBC 7 could ask.

“My husband saw it on the news and told me about it,” said Capps.

The Carlsbad Police Department arrested the murder suspect, a 17-year-old Carlsbad resident, on a city beach on Monday.

“It’s painful,” said Capps. “It’s painful. I have a son who’s 18 and he might know this boy. We might know this family.”

The arrest came three weeks after the deadly stabbing. Thorborg was hiking alone on a trail in Hosp Grove Park. At the time, police did not report any witnesses, weapon, or a possible motive -- and that hasn't changed after the arrest.

Whether or not more details come to light during trial depends on how the juvenile suspect is tried.

“This case is going to initiate in juvenile court,” criminal defense attorney Marc Kohnen said.

Kohnen said the District Attorney will likely ask to move the case to adult court, opening the trial to the public. It’s a motion Kohnen believes is likely to succeed.

 “It is significant the defendant is 17 versus 14 or 15,” said Kohnen.

For now, news of the arrest alone will have to suffice for a city consumed by this act of horror in a place where so many seek serenity.

“The thought that any one of us could be a victim is why this story resonates,” said Kohnen.

“I won’t hike alone,” said Capps about Hosp Grove Park. “Not here. Not after that happening. Nope.”

The arraignment will be closed to the public and will happen any day now if it hasn't already.

However, the decision as to whether or not the suspect will face trial as an adult will take some time. A prosecutor will have to file a motion, then there will be a hearing and a court report on the fitness of the defendant to face trial as an adult.

Should a judge rule he should be tried as an adult, the defendant will be eligible for life without parole.

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