HONESDALE, Pa. (AP) — A 10-year-old boy charged with fatally beating a 90-year-old woman remained in adult prison Wednesday after his lawyer withdrew a request for bail, saying his family isn't ready to have him released into their custody.
The boy, who is charged as an adult with criminal homicide, appeared via a video hookup for a hearing, burying his face in his hands at times but not speaking.
The boy's family believes he is being treated well at the county prison, where he is being housed alone in a cell and being kept away from the general population, said his attorney, Bernard Brown. He said the boy was being provided recreational opportunities and coloring books.
Brown had filed a petition to have the boy released into the custody of his father or moved to a juvenile detention facility. But he said the family was not comfortable having him placed in their care right now. He didn't elaborate on the reasons.
The closest juvenile detention center is 80 miles away, which would make family visits inconvenient, Brown said. Judge Raymond Hamill said he was also concerned about moving the boy to a juvenile center and exposing him to "elements more detrimental to his well-being."
The attorney still plans to seek to have the case transferred to juvenile court.
The boy is among the youngest charged with homicide in Pennsylvania, a list that includes two 11-year-olds and a 9-year-old, said Marsha Levick, chief counsel of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia.
Levick said the case belongs in juvenile court, calling it a "no-brainer."
"He's a little boy," she said. "It's a horrible tragedy, but it's shocking that he suddenly turned into an adult because of conduct that he engaged in."
Prosecutors had said that they had no choice but to charge him as an adult. In Pennsylvania, homicide charges must be filed in adult court. Judges can then move the cases to juvenile court when deemed appropriate.
District Attorney Janine Edwards said she will wait for the results of a mental health evaluation before deciding whether to contest having the case moved to juvenile court.
Detectives who executed a search of the boy's cell Wednesday turned up a piece of notebook paper with the words "How to Escape" on it, a court document showed. But the prosecutor told The Wayne Independent in Honesdale that nothing else of significance was found on the paper.
The beating Saturday occurred at the home of the boy's grandfather, who had been caring for the woman, Helen Novak.
According to the boy's mother, her son said he lost his temper when he went into the woman's room to ask her a question and she yelled at him. Authorities said the boy briefly held Novak down with a cane and then punched her in the throat and stomach.
The boy told a state trooper that he was "only trying to hurt her," but also acknowledged, "I killed that lady," according to the arrest affidavit.