8 Year-old murder suspect to spend Thanksgiving with mom

Posted: Updated:
Controversy surrounds decision
azfamily.com

UPDATE: Wednesday, Nov. 26

ST. JOHNS -- The 8-year-old St. Johns boy accused of murdering his father and another man three weeks ago will be spending Thanksgiving with his mom.

A judge is allowing the boy to leave juvenile detention for 48 hours -- from noon today until noon on Friday.

ORIGINAL STORY: Wednesday, Nov. 19

ST JOHNS - An 8-year-old murder suspect appeared before a judge in Apache County court on Wednesday.

There was heavy security as the boy was transported from the juvenile detention center. Sheriff's deputies held up blankets to keep the prying eyes of the public and the media that gathered in St. Johns away from the boy as he was ushered into the courtroom.

It was a pre-adjudication meeting. There were a lot of significant developments during the nearly two hours the boy spent in court before Judge Michael Roca.

The judge set up a pattern to take DNA swaps from the boy's mouth, as well as hand and footprints, hair samples and ordered a full evaluation by a pediatrician. An X-ray will also be conducted to determine if there are any broken bones. This would establish whether there was any physical abuse in his life.

The most interesting development on Wednesday was when the judge agreed with the defense motion to let the boy out for a 48-hour furlough for the Thanksgiving holiday. He will be released on noon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and will have to return to the detention center the Friday after the holiday.

There will be heavy security during that time. The judge has issued a sort of order telling people to stay away from the boy and his natural mother. She will have his care during the Thanksgiving holiday.

3TV spoke to Apache County court spokesperson Betty Smith after the court session to find out more about the furlough. She explained, "He [the judge] indicated at that time that there would be detention center staff present, along with using the assistance of the guardian."

The young boy's natural mother was in court. She has been there for the last couple of hearings. She did not say anything after she exited the courtroom.

As far as the gag order in this case, it remains in place. All of the people including the prosecutors, the attorneys and the police officers cannot talk. The judge is allowing information collected in the case. He believes that is public record and will be disseminated. There will be no more interview videos released, only transcripts will be allowed.

The boy will be back in court for a hearing to establish who is in charge of him and who is going to look after his well-being. That hearing is scheduled for Thursday.