http://edition.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/11/08/child.charged.ap/index.htmlFLAGSTAFF, Arizona (AP) -- A man who police believe was shot and killed by his 8-year-old son had consulted a Roman Catholic priest about whether the boy should have a gun and had taught him how to use firearms, the clergyman said.
The Very Rev. John Paul Sauter said Vincent Romero consulted him on whether his son should have a gun.
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The Very Rev. John Paul Sauter said the man, Vincent Romero, 29, wanted his son to learn how to hunt, but the boy's stepmother, Tiffany, suggested that he have a BB gun.
Police say the boy used a 22.-caliber rifle Wednesday to kill his father and another man, Timothy Romans, 39, of San Carlos.
Romero was an avid hunter who taught his son how to use a rifle to kill prairie dogs, said Sauter, of St. Johns Catholic Church.
"He wanted to make sure the kid wasn't afraid of guns, knew how to handle it," the priest said. "He was just too young. ... That child, I don't think he knows what he did, and it was brutal."
The boy, who faces two counts of premeditated murder, did not act on the spur of the moment, St. Johns Police Chief Roy Melnick said.
"I'm not accusing anybody of anything at this point," he said Saturday. "But we're certainly going to look at the abuse part of this. He's 8 years old. He just doesn't decide one day that he's going to shoot his father and shoot his father's friend for no reason. Something led up to this."
On Friday, a judge ordered a psychological evaluation of the boy. Under Arizona law, charges can be filed against anyone 8 or older.
The boy had no record of complaints with Arizona Child Protective Services, said Apache County Attorney Brad Carlyon.
"He had no record of any kind, not even a disciplinary record at school," he said. "He has never been in trouble before."
In a sign of the emotional and legal complexities of the case, police are pushing to have the boy tried as an adult even as they investigate possible abuse, Melnick said. If convicted as a minor, the boy could be sent to juvenile detention until he turns 18. Video Watch an expert's take on the situation »
Police had responded to calls of domestic violence at the Romero home, but authorities were searching records Saturday to determine when those calls were placed, Melnick said.
"We're going to use every avenue of the law that's available to us, but we're also looking at the human side," he said.
Melnick said officers arrived at Romero's home within minutes of the shooting Wednesday in St. Johns, which has a population of about 4,000 and is 170 miles northeast of Phoenix. They found one victim just outside the front door and the other dead in an upstairs room.
Romans had been renting a room at the Romero house, prosecutors said. Both men were employees of a construction company working at a power plant near St. Johns.
The boy went to a neighbor's house and said he "believed that his father was dead," Carlyon said.
Melnick said police got a confession, but the boy's attorney, Benjamin Brewer, said police overreached in questioning the boy without representation from a parent or attorney and did not advise him of his rights.
"They became very accusing early on in the interview," Brewer said. "Two officers with guns at their side, it's very scary for anybody, for sure an 8-year-old kid."
Prosecutors aren't sure where the case is headed, Carlyon said.
"There's a ton of factors to be considered and weighed, including the juvenile's age," he said. "The counterbalance against that, the acts that he apparently committed."
FBI statistics show that 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 killing his mother.
Romero had full custody of the child. The boy's biological mother visited St. Johns during the weekend from Mississippi and returned to Arizona after the shootings, Carlyon said.
Family members declined to speak on the record.
Brewer said the boy "seems to be in good spirits."
"He's scared," he said. "He's trying to be tough, but he's scared."
This is a real shame.. Got told about it today then linked by someone I've spent the last few weeks convincing that the only way adults will be safe with firearms is if they learn to respect them young.