Blogging from Phoenix — In the week since police charged an eight year old St. Johns boy with premeditated murder in the killing of his father and a boarder. Authorities are still baffled over why or what would cause a child to commit so shocking a crime. But in a State where they put children on chain gangs, it comes as little surprise. Local Phoenix talk radio stations are encouraging folks to buy the rope before we pick a jury.
But among a minority of people who actually think before casting stones. We are left wondering what could possibly have happened in the life of this child, growing up in a sparse desert hamlet some 200 miles east of Metropolitan Phoenix. What would cause him as the police describe it, To methodically murder his Father and another man. In a police interview the boy said he had been spanked the night before for some trouble in school, but did not say that was why he did it.

Prior to a media gag order, the police chief and prosecutor said on the record, there was no evidence of any long term problem at school or in the home. The boy used a single action .22 Rifle, which would have required him to chamber a round each time he fired and he reportedly shot each man four times.

The child’s mother 26 year old Erin Bloomfield, shared custody of her son with the boys Father, 29 year old Vincent Romero, the couple divorced six years ago. She is said to have spoken by telephone with her son each week and visited most every month, driving 20 hours from Mississippi to do so. Mrs. Bloomfield had just returned from her most recent visit when she was called about the murders. The boys Mother reportedly told authorities her son seemed to have been changing recently. She pointed to Tiffany Romero, the boys step mother, as the possible source of the change in her sons attitude. She claimed to worry her son might have been abused, but was unable to provide any direct proof or incident to support her suspicions.

Apache County Superior court Judge Michael Roca has barred anyone connected with the case from talking to the media, But prior to the gag order St Johns Police Chief Roy Melnick stated there was no evidence of abuse at home or school. It was also revealed the boys father had taught his son to shoot and had taken him hunting, occasionally joined by 39 year old Timothy Romans the other man who was killed, Romans had rented a room in the family home and worked in construction with Mr Romero. A majority of the four thousand or so inhabitants of the mostly catholic community of St Johns either knew the victims personally or know someone who did, and unlike a large city the grief is intimate and shared. Those who have been willing to speak publicly, have said the eight year old who stands accused of cold blooded murder was a typical little boy.

The boy who unexpectedly confessed to the killings while police were interviewing him had neither a family member or an attorney present because police considered the youngster their prime witness not the killer. Prosecutors have charged the boy as an adult and he is scheduled to undergo psychological examinations to determine if he is competent to understand the gravity of his actions. In Arizona an eight year old can be tried as an adult, if it is shown he is competent to understand the charges against him, posses a basic understanding of court procedures and due process and is able to cooperate and assist his lawyers in his own defense.

Once that has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of a magistrate, the State must convince the judge the boy is beyond  hope of rehabilitation in Arizona’s juvenile justice system. But Arizona is a deep-Red State known for draconian neoconservative laws. It allows prosecutors the option of deciding if the boy is incompetent to stand trial at this time, of detaining him in a psychiatric facility, until he is deemed competent. Then trying him as an adult.

Because St Johns is in Apache County, the want of metropolitan Phoenix media and radio outlets to inflame emotion is limited, and most authorities in the case stated prior to the gag order, getting the child appropriate psychiatric help and discovering the reason behind this tragedy is a primary goal.

psburton 

  

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