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Killer, 10, sent to treatment program

By Associated Press
January 15, 2010

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ST. JOHNS, Ariz. - A 10-year-old boy who pleaded guilty to fatally shooting his father’s friend in November 2008 was ordered yesterday to a residential treatment program.

Judge Monica Stauffer had the option of sending the St. Johns boy to a county facility. Defense lawyers and prosecutors pushed for him to be placed in the residential treatment program in Maricopa County.

The length of the boy’s stay in the program is unclear, but he will also be placed on intensive probation until he turns 18.

The boy was 8 when he was charged in the shooting deaths of his father, 29-year-old Vincent Romero, and his father’s friend, 39-year-old Timothy Romans. He pleaded guilty to shooting Romans, and the charges related to his father’s death were dropped as part of a plea deal.

A motive never has been made clear, although the boy told investigators he kept a tally of spankings.

The Associated Press is not identifying the boy because of his age.

The sentencing ends a 14-month saga that created a buzz in legal circles as experts questioned whether the boy had the mental capacity to understand the crimes.

During the hearing in the courthouse in St. Johns, the boy said through his lawyers that he is sorry for killing his father and apologized for hurting the Romans family and his own family.

The boy’s lawyer, Ron Wood, said he made a choice that day between killing himself or killing the two men.