Monday, November 10, 2008
Arizona police aim to put eight-year-old on trial as an adult for shooting deaths
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Police chief Roy Melnick is photographed at the St Johns, Arizona, police station. Melnick is one of the investigators in the murder case involving an eight-year-old boy. Photograh: Dana Felthauser/AP
Police officers in a small town in Arizona are pushing to put an eight-year-old boy on trial as an adult for the premeditated murder of his father and a family friend.
The boy has confessed to shooting at close range his father, Vincent Romero, 29, and Timothy Romans, 39, who was renting a room in their house in St Johns. The boy is alleged to have shot both men with a .22 calibre rifle last Wednesday, one on the front step, the other in an upstairs room. He then walked to a neighbour's house and announced that he believed his father was dead.
Officers allege that the shootings were planned. They are investigating whether there was any abuse that could have led to the incident.
"He's just eight years old. He just doesn't decide one day that he's going to shoot his father and his father's friend for no reason. Something led up to this," the local police chief Roy Melnick told the Associated Press.
Romero was an avid hunter who taught his son how to use rifles to shoot prairie dogs. He was buried yesterday wearing his hunter's cap. The boy's stepmother, who married Romero in September, had suggested he have his own gun.
The Catholic priest who conducted the funeral said Romero had come to him before the shooting to ask his advice about whether his son should be allowed to handle guns. "That child, I don't think he knows what he did, and it was brutal," Rev John Paul Sauter said.
The boy has no history of any violence or irregular behaviour. His lawyer, Benjamin Brewer, said "He's trying to be tough, but he's scared."
The killings have shocked the town of 4,000 people that lies 170 miles north-east of Arizona's capitol, Phoenix. St Johns mayor, Ross Overson, said the incident "makes us ask 'Why?' No community can understand how something like this could happen."
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