ST. JOHNS, Ariz. – A judge has denied a defense motion to appoint a therapist for a 9-year-old boy accused of killing his father and another man, saying defense attorneys did not adequately address his concerns.
The boy's lawyer, Benjamin Brewer, has said the boy was having trouble sleeping in juvenile detention and would like someone to talk to for emotional support, stress management, relaxation and healing.
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"We're a little frustrated," Brewer said of the ruling Thursday. "We think it's important the kid has someone to talk to."
The boy, who turned 9 on Monday, faces two counts of premeditated murder in the Nov. 5 shooting deaths of his father, 29-year-old Vincent Romero, and 39-year-old Timothy Romans, who rented a room in the family's home in the small eastern Arizona town of St. Johns. They were shot with a .22-caliber rifle when they returned home from work.
Apache County Superior Court Judge Michael Roca cited concerns with the initial defense request for a therapist and ordered it amended. Among other things, that request would have kept the therapist from having to testify about her exchanges with the boy.
Brewer complied, but Roca said in a ruling posted on the court Web site late Wednesday that his concerns were only superficially addressed. Roca said the motion fails to describe the frequency and duration of sessions, proposes to regulate the conduct and activities of the detention facility, and still implies exemptions for the therapist.
The judge also questioned the $100 per hour the defense sought to pay the therapist.
Brewer said the judge was "making us jump through some hoops that aren't necessary" but said he would continue to amend the request until it is approved.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday in St. Johns.
The boy's mother, stepmother, aunt and grandmother have visitation rights, but Brewer said the boy cannot talk openly with them because they could be called as witnesses.