ST. JOHNS, Ariz. – An Arizona judge and the family of a teenager who fatally shot two men in 2008, including his father, was full of praise for him Wednesday, for the progress he has made as his time trial is coming to an end.
Judge Monica Stauffer told the boy that she knows of the past nine years have not been easy, but admired him for the way he is treated. She turned in the direction of the phone in a small courtroom in St. Johns, where he listened into her eyes fill with tears.
“I’m really proud of you and you are going to do great things,” she said. “So much of your life for you to live and to enjoy life.”
The authorities were not specific about the progress that he has made, but said that he’s shown remorse, learned to manage finances, set goals for themselves and has a good heart.
Wednesday was the last hearing in the case that worried the police and the public prosecutor because the boy was 8 at the time. The criminal charges are resolved in juvenile court with the boy plead guilty to negligent homicide in the death of 39-year-old Tim Romans, who he called from inside his house and was shot with a .22-caliber single-shot rifle as Romans walked to the door.
Prosecutors said that the recognition of the legal responsibility for the death of his father, the 29-year-old Vincent Romero, would be a heavy burden for a boy, and had that charge. The romans rented a room in the two-story blue house that Romero shared with his new wife and son.
The boy thanked those who listened to him and helped him determine what he needs to make the transition to adulthood Friday, sounds much older than the days, when he was in the courtroom restless and look nervously looks over at his family.
“I’m just very thankful for everyone in the case,” he said.
Other than a trio of probation violations in 2012, the boy was still not in trouble. Stauffer said that his life changed drastically with the involvement of the clinical psychologist Dr. Alan Lewis, who helped him to mature, understand his value and that he would be known for his future, not his past.
The Associated Press is not identifying the boy because of his age at the time of the crimes.
Stauffer credited the boy’s grandmother, Liz Castillo, to ensure the case is moved together with the boy’s best interest in mind. Castillo sat in the front row of the small courtroom with her daughter and sister in the neighborhood, wiped the tears from her eyes. They said that for the past nine years have been treacherous, but was grateful for the attention brought to the case.
She said Romero and Romans would always be in her mind and heart.
“We hope and pray that we could get through this, and the time is here,” she said.
Castillo told Stauffer they had hoped the province would investigate juvenile procedures so that people who are appointed to represent children are more involved.
Romans encouraged changed. She listened as the people in the courtroom and thanked each other for involvement in the case, but wondered why little attention has been paid to the victims.
“Not one time, ‘How’s it going with you girls? How is it going?'” she said as her voice cracked over the phone. “Take a look at the victims’ side. Tim was a great man he was. It is just sad that two lives were simply overlooked.”
Still, Roman said she hopes and prays the boy got the help that he needs to “in everything he did will not repeat.” She said that she did not want the boy near her family.
Stauffer and apologized for the Romans, and said they would take suggestions for dealing with juvenile cases eligible for future cases.
The boy of the time spent in a residential treatment center, group home and foster care. He has said that he wants to continue with the treatment until he is 21, and Stauffer said that they would let the providers decide what is best for him, because the court no longer has jurisdiction over him.
They had his records sealed, saying: the boy is interested in the treatment and recovery weighs more heavily than the public interest in the case. Details with respect to his treatment was already sealed.
They denied a request of Castillo the issuance of an order is prohibited for persons to take advantage of the case.
Stauffer said she understood the Castillo-request, but is of the opinion that the boy has a story to tell of the hope, change and growth.
“I see (the boy) has an important place in the life and how he chooses to use his talent and skills and are run over a period of nine years is important for children,” she said.