Arizona law generally holds that a child lacks competency to be held responsible for a homicide.UPDATE: CNN reports:
However, [St. John Police Chief Roy] Melnick told the newspaper, “We think an exception can be made based on the facts and circumstances … This is precedent-setting. We're going to charge an 8-year-old with two counts of homicide."
"Who would think an 8-year-old kid could kill two adults?" St. Johns Police Chief Roy Melnick said Friday.
The crime that unfolded Wednesday evening sent shock waves through St. Johns, a community of about 4,000 people northeast of Phoenix. The boy had no disciplinary record at school, and there was no indication he had any problems at home, prosecutors said....
Under Arizona law, a juvenile under 8 years old is treated as a dependent child. Charges can be filed against anyone 8 or older, which Melnick argued are warranted in this case. He said the child didn't act on the "spur of the moment," though he didn't elaborate on what the motive might have been....
Brewer, the defense attorney, said the child "seems to be in good spirits."
"He's scared," he said. "He's trying to be tough, but he's scared."