ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – An 11-year-old New Mexico boy who police say reported he fatally shot his father because the man was punishing him was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder.
Belen Police Sgt. Joe Portio said evidence supports the murder charge filed by District Attorney Lemuel Martinez's office. He declined to elaborate, citing a request by the boy's attorney, Jeff Buckels.
Police have said the boy shot 42-year-old Bryon Hilburn with a rifle on Aug. 27 while his 6-year-old sister was in the room, then flagged down officers outside the family's home in Belen, about 30 miles south of Albuquerque.
The boy was 10 at the time.
Buckels said he hasn't seen the charges but added: "The whole idea that a 10-year-old boy is capable of committing deliberate murder is preposterous."
The boy remains in the custody of his mother. His name is being withheld because of his age. He cannot face adult sanctions because New Mexico law says a child must be 14 or older to be tried as an adult for murder.
According to a police report, the boy told officers he shot his father because he was upset about punishment imposed by Hilburn. The boy also told police he used his own rifle to shoot Hilburn.
Hilburn was divorced and had custody of the boy and his two siblings.
State Children, Youth and Families Department spokeswoman Romaine Serna said that since 2003, state officials have received nine calls regarding the family on a department hot line used to report possible child abuse or neglect. Officials substantiated only one claim involving the boy's mother.
Serna said the two other children, both under 6, have been placed with relatives. She said a judge will determine the boy's conditions of release, "either keeping him with his mom or placing him elsewhere."
Serna said the department will share "all and any information" it has based on its work with the boy once a judge is assigned to the case.
"This is an emotionally charged case," Serna said. "The goal of CYFD is for this young person to receive all of the rehabilitative services possible, should he be found guilty."