Colorado boy to plead guilty to murdering parents: prosecutor

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 26, 2011 5:33 PM
Colorado boy to plead guilty to murdering parents: prosecutor

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A 13-year-old rural Colorado boy accused of murdering his parents and wounding two siblings in a shooting and stabbing rampage will plead guilty in juvenile court to avoid being tried as an adult, a prosecutor said on Friday.

Robert Watson, the district attorney for Kit Carson County, said the boy, 12 at the time of the killings, will plead guilty to the first-degree murder of his parents, Marilyn and Charles Long, and the attempted murder and aggravated assault of his brother and sister.

The bloody attacks in March shocked the 4,400 residents of Burlington, Colorado, a farming community near the Kansas state line.

Watson said at a news conference the plea agreement was "not an easy decision, nor is it one I am entirely happy with," but that he had limited options under the law.

"Unfortunately the current status of Colorado law forces us to choose between an either unacceptably light juvenile sentence, or an unnecessarily harsh lifetime sentence," he said.

The boy will likely serve just seven years in a juvenile detention facility.

Police said the boy placed a 911 call to report that three people were shot at his home in Burlington, 165 miles east of Denver.

When police arrived, they found his parents dead from gunshot wounds fired from a .357 magnum.

They also discovered the boy's nine-year-old brother, Ethan, critically injured from gunshot and knife wounds and his sister Sara, 5, seriously injured from a knife attack.

Both of the children recovered from their wounds, and are living with relatives.

Watson said his decision not to try the boy as an adult went against the wishes of most of the Long family.

"While it was not unanimous, it was clear that a majority of the family believes this case should be tried in adult court," Watson said.

He said the case was "problematical" because the boy had no criminal record, and was home-schooled so there were no school, medical or psychological records to rely on.

The boy was evaluated by both prosecution and defense mental health professionals, Watson added.

The prosecutor said the case was "practically unheard of" in the annals of criminology.

"It is extraordinarily rare for a child to kill both parents, and also to attack younger siblings in the same event," Watson said.

The boy is expected to be sentenced on September 28.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)