Saturday, November 22, 2008

8-Year-Old's Charges to be Dropped

CNN reports today that the prosecutor in the case of the Arizona boy accused of killing his father and another man has recommended that one of the murder charges be dropped. In discussing this case before here and here, we seemed to be facing a number of mysterious elements that remained obscure. Unfortunately, although this sounds like good news, mysteries in this perplexing case continue.

Apache County Attorney Criss Candelaria filed a one-paragraph motion in juvenile court to drop the murder charge accusing the boy of killing his father.

The motion gave no reason for the request, saying only that "the state believes the interest of justice will be served by such a dismissal."

On the Preaching to the Choir blog, Sarah says that a radical change has taken place in the way the prosecution is viewing the homicides. Yet, questions remain as to why both charges are not being dropped.

What I do know is we are getting a good lesson in why we all should not rush to judgment within hours of an investigation beginning.

Amen to that, Sarah.

What do you think happened? Why would they drop only the one charge and not the other? What ever happened to the boy's mother and step-mother? Have they been mentioned again?

About the cops questioning the boy without a lawyer or parent present, could that be partly justified by the video taping? By filming the proceedings were they demonstrating proper intentions? And where's that cop who spoke on the video last week saying the boy planned and executed a double homicide? I think he said it was pre-meditated and planned.

Did we ever agree on what age a person can be held responsible for their actions? We've executed a number of young men who committed their crimes as teenagers. Where do we draw the line? What's your opinion?


  1. I won't speculate on what DID happen, that's what got us here in the first place.

    I will say the videos you posted showing the interrogation and the supplementary information leads me to be more believing of the first story (white car seen driving away, both men dead in the house) and the 2nd story was coursed out of a scared uncomfortable boy by police looking a little too hard.

    I'm glad to hear the case was dismissed, your last post left me doubtful of the boy's involvement.

  2. Thanks for the link. I think I've made it pretty clear over at my blog that I'm appalled by the way the police have handled this case.

    While it's great that they videotaped the interview (all police interviews should be videotaped in full), it does not in any way cure the problems with that interrogation. They are hiding behind the idea that they didn't have to Mirandize him or give him a lawyer or family member because it was not a custodial interrogation. Well, that's a meaningless phrase in the context of an 8 year-old boy whose custodial parent has just been murdered. He was a temporary ward of the state until a family member could be found to take custody. He was alone. He was undoubtedly scared. And that interview has all the earmarks of a Reid interview, meaning they went into it thinking he did it and their goal was to get him around to saying it. Knowing that they were going into the interview with a confession in mind (I don't care what they say, I know a Reid interview when I see one), it was just reckless, even malicious, of them not to protect him by getting him a lawyer.

    As for minimum ages for accountability, I would prefer automatically treating anyone under the age of 10 as a juvenile in need of care (meaning social workers and therapy) as opposed to a juvenile delinquent. I also think we waive way too many teenagers to adult court. Teen brains simply aren't developed in the critical areas of decision-making and impulse control. So I'm not comfortable with the idea of putting them in adult prisons for long times. Juveniles should be given a real chance to be rehabilitated, which adult prison does not provide.

    As for when to execute folks, if I had my way, we wouldn't execute anyone. I'm certainly pleased with the US Supreme Court's ruling that no one who was under 18 at the time of the crime can't be executed.

  3. Dear S., Thanks for the comment and the common-sense way of determining culpability based upon age. And thanks for being opposed to the death penalty. There's another thread around here somewhere in which it was suggested that I oppose capital punishment because it "offends my sensibilities," as if that might be some frivolous feeling or something. It does offend my sensibilities, but that's because I believe there exists a moral imperative against murder, and that includes State sanctioned murder.