Third Grader Due in Court to Face Murder Charges in Shooting Death of Dad, Friend
ST. JOHNS, Ariz. – An 8-year-old boy is due in court Monday to face two counts of premeditated murder in the shooting death of his father and a friend, a hearing on the same day mourners gathered for a funeral.
Police say the boy, a third-grader, confessed to planning and carrying out the shooting deaths of his father, Vincent Romero, 29, and a co-worker who rented a room from him. The men were found dead inside Romero's home northeast of Phoenix on Wednesday.
Authorities had no motive for the shootings.
"That's what's puzzling to us," Police Chief Roy Melnick said Monday on NBC's "Today" show. "There's no record of any problems in school, no reported abuse."
Mourners who couldn't get in either crowded around an open door or sat on chairs set up outside St. John the Baptist Catholic Church Monday for a service for the boy's father.
Romero came from a family of hunters and wanted to make sure the boy wasn't afraid of guns, said the Very Rev. John Paul Sauter of St. Johns Catholic Church. He said the father taught his son how to use a rifle to kill prairie dogs.
Police say the boy used a .22-caliber rifle to kill his father and the other man, Timothy Romans, 39, of San Carlos.
St. Johns police are hoping a judge will agree to try the boy as an adult but admit it's unlikely.
The boy's attorney says police questioned his client without representation from a parent or attorney and didn't advise the child of his rights.
The killings took place in the St. Johns, a town of about 4,000 people some 170 miles northeast of Phoenix.
Romero was well-liked and people here are likely turn out in droves for his funeral.
"Everybody here is heart-broken," Melnick said. "We are a close-knit community. A lot of friends and neighbors have pulled together."
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