In a case that has "shocked" and "saddened" a small, rural eastern Arizona community, an 8-year-old boy has been charged in the shooting deaths of his father and another man.
The boy faces two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of his father, Vincent Romero, 29, and Timothy Romans, 39.
Police arrived at the victim's house he shared with his wife within minutes of the shooting Wednesday, said Roy Melnick, St. Johns police chief. They found one victim just outside the front door and the other dead in an upstairs room.
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The boy initially denied involvement in the shooting that left the men with multiple gunshot wounds from a .22-calier rifle but later confessed, Melnick said Friday.
A judge determined at a hearing Friday that probable cause existed to believe the boy committed the murders and also ordered a psychological evaluation. The boy was being held at the Apache County juvenile detention facility.
Prosecutors are still evaluating the direction they want to take with the case. Chief Deputy Apache County attorney Brad Carlyon said "there's a ton of factors to be considered and weighed, including the juvenile's age. The counter balance against that, the acts that he apparently committed."
"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 instances of children younger than 11 committing homicides are very 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 weren't 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 shooting his mother to death.