April hearing set for 10-year-old boy accused of fatally stabbing friend
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A 10-year-old East County boy accused of fatally stabbing a 12-year-old friend is receiving “extraordinary care” at Juvenile Hall as his defense team tries to figure out if he's mentally competent to stand trial, an attorney said Thursday.
A readiness conference, at which the boy's competency was to be addressed, was put off until April 16.
“He is receiving extraordinary care from the staff at Juvenile Hall,” Deputy Public Defender Marian Gaston told Judge Carlos Armour.
The juvenile — wearing an orange T-shirt with his hands held to his chest — said “Hi” to the judge but appeared upset at the announcement that his next hearing would be in two months.
Outside court, Gaston refused to comment on the boy's reaction.
Prosecutor Victor Barr told reporters that anybody would be affected by seeing a child so young charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon.
“I don't think it's anything anybody wants to see,” the prosecutor said outside court.
At the boy's arraignment last month, Gaston said he would undergo a psychological evaluation to determine whether he is competent to stand trial.
A judge would look at a juvenile's mental health and/or lack of maturity as possible reasons why a minor might not be competent to understand the charges and assist in his/her defense, Barr said.
Described by neighbors as a troubled youngster prone to outbursts of anger and aggression, the youth was in the driveway of his home in the 12500 block of Royal Road in the unincorporated Winter Gardens area near El Cajon when he allegedly stabbed Ryan Carter in the chest about 1:15 p.m. on Jan. 16.
If convicted, the 10-year-old could be held in the juvenile justice system until age 25, Barr said. A child under 14 can't be tried in adult court, where the objective is punishment, not rehabilitation, the prosecutor said.