An Arizona boy who confessed to killing his father and another man when he was 8 years old has been cleared by a judge to transition into a foster home and enroll in public school, prompting outrage from the prosecutor and the family of a victim. The boy, now 15 years old, was a third-grader when police accused him of using a .22-caliber rifle to shoot his father and his father's friend as they returned home from work in 2008. No exact motive was revealed, although the boy referred to spankings in discussions with child welfare investigators. The boy pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the death of Tim Romans, 39, and prosecutors dropped a premeditated murder charge in his 29-year-old father's death in exchange for the plea.
The plea deal called for the boy to be sent to treatment facilities and undergo intensive probation until he's 18. His latest evaluations show he doesn't pose a threat to himself or others, allowing him to join a regular classroom and move to a foster home that's more like a family setting, his attorney says. "He's not just a teenager. He's the teenager who murdered his father, so that puts him in a special category of scrutiny," the attorney says. The boy's family on his father's side routinely attends court hearings and visits him at the treatment facility, but his mother has been in and out of his life, and a judge recently ordered her to explain why she hasn't been turning over his Social Security payments to help offset the cost of treatment. (Read more Arizona stories.)