Friday, November 21, 2008

Well, this changes things.

The prosecutor in St. John's, Arizona has filed a motion to dismiss one of the murder charges against that 8 year-old boy. Interesting. Specifically, the boy will no longer be charged with murder in the death of his father (assuming the motion is granted, as they almost always are). Very interesting.

What does this mean? This suggests the state has radically rethought its theory of the homicides. But they're not just saying they have no confidence in the confession. Were that the case, they would dismiss both charges. I don't want to speculate too much, but I've got all sorts of ideas running around in my head right now. (Do they think roommate killed dad and then kid shot roommate?)

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. Whatever happened here surely traumatized this boy. If it turns out that the truth is something other than what those police officers decided early on, how much extra trauma has this poor child been put through? It seems like the authorities in Arizona just recklessly rushed ahead to the accusation stage without thought to the consequences. Police officers led this 8 year-old to confess to shooting two men, one of whom was his father. Police charged him with double murder and talked all tough about how this kid should be charged as an adult for committing premeditated, intentional murder. It's bad enough to do that kind of stuff to an adult who turns out to be innocent. But if you publicly accuse a child of double murder (including the murder of his parent), you better be damn sure that you're right. If you're not sure, maybe you ought to shut the hell up and do some more investigating.


Unknown said...

I love what you said, Sarah. I linked to your post.

Unknown said...

An 8 year is incompetent to understand the gravity of his actions and a full distinction between right and wrong. He probably doesn't even grasp the permanence of death. I think the lesson here is that you don't allow children below a certain age access to guns for the same reason you don't let them play with matches. Speaking for myself, I don't think I even developed an empathy for animals until I was 18. That said, I don't think maldevelopment should excuse or lesson punishment for crimes, but an 8 year old is well below a reasonable age of accountability IMO.

S said...

Thanks for the link, Mike.

As I've been saying since the beginning of this case, google, I completely agree that an 8 year-old cannot reasonably be held accountable as a criminal. In many states, the minimum age for filing a "criminal" case in juvenile court is 10. Anyone under 10 can't even be adjudicated, but can only be treated as a child in need of care.

Anonymous said...

This is the bottom line. It is unbelievably easy to get an eight year old to say ANYTHING you want them to say, especially alone and in the presence of police officers without a parent or legal counsel. You could have been able to get this little boy to say that a large green alien came in through the window and shot these men if that was the story you wanted to hear. Tremendous amounts of research on the subject of influencing children in interviews is available for the reading. These officers have no training whatsoever in interviewing children. Using the good cop/bad cop scenario with a kid is absurd. The individuals who have been involved in this case from day one should be held accountable for their unprofessional and negligent actions and suspended. The trauma this little boy has endured at the hands of ignorant police officers is horrific.

S said...

Amen, anonymous. Police and prosecutors are rarely held accountable in any real way for bad conduct. I've made it clear I think the prosecutor who released the video tape has an ethical problem and should be investigated. I also agree that the officers who got us to this point should be demoted, put on probation, or flat-out fired. We owe it to ourselves to make sure our police force does better work than this. They're supposed to help keep us all safe, which they aren't doing if they refuse to investigate a murder thoroughly.

Anonymous said...

I've been following this one from the beginning too and it is really odd that they did this.

As they say: it is getting curiouser and curiouser.

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