Two men in St. Johns, Arizona were believed to have been shot to death by an 8-year-old boy. One of the men was the child’s father. The child had never before shown signs he was troubled or abused. The shooting happened on Wednesday.
The court determined there is probable cause that the child shot his father, Vincent Romero, 29, and Timothy Romans, 39, of San Carlos with a .22-caliber rifle. The boy has been charged with two counts of premeditated murder.
Both men lived in the home in which they were found dead. Officers arrived just after the crime took place.
Romans was renting a room from his fellow employee Romero. The two worked for a construction company that was working at the Salt River Project power plant near St. Johns.
The boy went to a neighbour stating he believed his father was dead. Police began to question the boy and obtained a confession. The child’s attorney, Brad Carlyon, said the boy was questioned without representation and was not advised of his rights.
The Associated Press reports:
“They became very accusing early on in the interview,” Brewer said. “Two officers with guns at their side, it’s very scary for anybody, for sure an 8-year-old kid.”
The judge ordered the boy undergo a psychological evaluation. He is being held at the Apache Country juvenile detention center.
Considering the child’s age it’s unclear how this case will play out. Under Arizona law, a child under the age of 8 is treated as a dependent child. Charges are allowed on children 8 and over.
St. Johns Police Chief Roy Melnick believes the child did not act on the spur of the moment.
Defense attorney Mike Piccarreta says it would be difficult for an 8-year-old to comprehend the act of murder and the implications of that act. He is not involved in this case.
“If they actually prosecute the guy, it’s a legal minefield,” he said. “And, two, society has to make a decision as to whether they want to start using the criminal justice system to deal with 8-year-olds. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a troubled kid.”
The child lived with his father who had full custody. His mother had visited St. Johns on the weekend before returning to her home in Mississippi. She returned to Arizona after the shootings.