Page last updated at 01:44 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Boy, 8, on double murder charge

The house where Vincent Romero and Timothy Romans were found fatally shot last Wednesday
Police have said the child methodically planned the killings

An eight-year-old boy has appeared in court charged with the murders of his father and a lodger in the US state of Arizona last Wednesday.

Police say the child admitted shooting the two men with a .22-calibre rifle.

Some people in court cried as the boy appeared in handcuffs sitting restlessly next to his mother.

As hundreds of mourners turned out to see the father laid to rest, friends and neighbours disputed any suggestion that the boy might have been abused.

Police have said the child methodically planned the killings of Vincent Romero, a 29-year-old construction worker, and lodger Timothy Romans, 39, at their home in the small community of St Johns, north-east of Phoenix.

'No complaints'

About 600 people filled a Catholic Church in the rural town on Monday for the funeral of Mr Romero, a keen hunter, whose coffin had a camouflage lid.

Mourners at Vincent Romero’s funeral service at St John the Baptist church on Monday 10 November 2008
The town of 4,000 people has been left reeling by the deaths

The priest conducting the service said Mr Romero had come from a family of hunters and had taught his son how to use a rifle to kill prairie dogs.

Arizona prosecutors say there is no record of any complaints about the boy with child protection services and that the third-grader had no disciplinary record at school.

Officials said Mr Romero had full custody of the child and that his mother lived in Mississippi. The boy's stepmother was not home at the time of the shooting, police said.

Over the weekend, police chief Roy Melnick said investigators were looking into whether the boy might have been abused, but would not say who might be under scrutiny.

Relatives and friends of Mr Romero's told the Associated Press news agency they had noticed nothing amiss.

Neighbour Carl Hamblin said he often saw Mr Romero and his son at football games or playing baseball in the yard.

Another neighbour, Amber Smith, said the father and son had been like "two peas in a pod".

The boy's lawyer has complained that police questioned him without representation from a parent or lawyer and had not advised him of his rights.

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Father 'murdered' by son, aged 8
08 Nov 08 |  Americas

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