Boy, 8, Charged With Killing 2 Men

By Felicia Fonseca
Associated Press
Sunday, November 9, 2008

ST. JOHNS, Ariz., Nov. 8 -- An 8-year-old boy has been charged with killing his father and another man, and police in this small eastern Arizona community are looking into the possibility that the child had been abused, the police chief said Saturday.

The boy was charged as a juvenile with two counts of premeditated murder because he allegedly did not act on the spur of the moment, Police Chief Roy Melnick said.

"I'm not accusing anybody of anything at this point," he said Saturday. "But we're certainly going to look at the abuse part of this. He's 8 years old. He just doesn't decide one day that he's going to shoot his father and shoot his father's friend for no reason. Something led up to this."

On Friday, a judge determined that there was probable cause to show that the boy fatally shot his father, Vincent Romero, 29, and Timothy Romans, 39, of San Carlos, with a .22-caliber rifle.

Under Arizona law, charges can be filed against anyone age 8 or older. The judge ordered a psychological evaluation of the boy.

Police are pushing to have the boy tried as an adult, Melnick said, but he acknowledged it is unlikely that a judge would grant that motion. If convicted as a minor, the boy could be sent to juvenile detention until he turns 18.

Police had responded to calls of domestic violence at the Romero home in the past, and authorities were searching records Saturday to determine when those calls were placed, Melnick said.

"We're going to use every avenue of the law that's available to us, but we're also looking at the human side," he said.

Melnick said officers arrived at Romero's home within minutes of the shooting Wednesday in St. Johns, which has a population of about 4,000 and is 170 miles northeast of Phoenix. They found one victim just outside the front door and the other in an upstairs room.

Romans had been renting a room at the Romero house, prosecutors said. Both men were employees of a construction company working at a power plant near St. Johns.

Apache County Attorney Brad Carlyon said the boy had no record of complaints with Arizona Child Protective Services.

"He had no record of any kind, not even a disciplinary record at school," he said. "He has never been in trouble before."

FBI statistics show that instances of children younger than 11 committing homicides are rare. According to recent FBI supplementary homicide reports, there were at least three such cases each year in 2003, 2004 and 2005; there were at least 15 in 2002. More recent statistics were not available, nor were details of the cases.

Earlier this year in Arizona, prosecutors in Cochise County filed first-degree-murder charges against a 12-year-old boy accused of killing his mother.

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