A judge on Wednesday sentenced a child accused of killing his parents and attacking two of his siblings to seven to nine years in custody
The boy, 13, was 12 years old at the time of the attacks in his hometown of Burlington.
The bodies of Charles and Marilyn Long were found March 1 after 911 dispatchers received a call from the boy about the shooting. They both had been shot with a .357 Magnum
Prosecutors said the boy had also stabbed his 5-year-old sister in the neck and shot and stabbed his 9-year-old brother
Under the plea deal, the boy will spend at least five years in a juvenile detention center. If the boy doesn't take his rehabilitation seriously in the youth corrections program, Watson said managers there could send him to state prison for his final two years, once he turns 18.
Also, if corrections officials don't feel the boy is ready to re-enter society after his seven-year sentence, at the age of 20, they could ask a judge to add another two years to his stay
, Watson said, bringing the total number of years possibly served under this deal to nine.
"This was not an easy decision, nor is it one that I'm entirely happy with. But unfortunately, the current status of Colorado law forces us to choose between either an unacceptably light juvenile sentence or an unnecessarily harsh lifetime sentence
," Watson said.
"The nature of the assault in this case is practically unheard of in the history 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's aunt told 7NEWS that she's disappointed he was not tried as an adult.
"He killed my brother. He should spend the rest of his life in prison,"
said Debra Long. "I don't think he should ever get out. He doesn't deserve to be out. And I don't believe that the rest of the family or society will be safe when he does get out."
She said the boy is mentally competent and she never saw anything bad at the home that would prompt him to kill both parents.
Michelle Funderburg, a cousin, also wanted to see the boy tried in adult court.
"I think it's appalling that our justice system would allow a killer back into society in seven years," Funderburg said. "I think it's putting everyone at risk."
"I am disappointed with this decision," said Wally Long, the boy's uncle, in a statement. "I am saddened that the murder of Charles and Marilyn and the brutal assault on two little children will result in only a few years in prison. I feel betrayed. Not by Bob Watson or Brittany Lewton. Not by the team of attorneys representing my nephew. I feel betrayed by the system.
"The case involves a 12-year-old boy with absolutely no criminal history. We had to consider the maturity level of the child and his mental development
," Watson said.
This was a bit more complicated because the boy was home-schooled and as a result, there are no school records, no medical records and no psychology reports
, Watson said.
Watson also consulted with Dr. Kathleen Heidi, a criminology professor at the University of South Florida, who specializes in juveniles who commit homicides and juveniles who kill their parents.
Heidi spent 8.5 hours with the boy, interviewed family members, toured the juvenile detention facility and reviewed treatment options for the boy, Watson said.
The defense team consulted with Dr. Terri Finney, who conducted standard psychological tests on the boy.
The defense and the prosecution agreed to share the results of both doctors' assessments, which is unusual, Watson said.
Prosecutors said the boy stabbed his 5-year-old sister in the neck and shot and stabbed his 9-year-old brother.
Both children are out of the hospital and living out of state with family members.
"They seem to be, physically, doing pretty well," Watson said.
Long also clarified the statement from the prosecutor about the medical records issue.
He said, to his knowledge, none of the three youngest children in that Burlington home had ever seen a family doctor.
"I can't even speculate as to why," Long said. "But I know that if they'd had a really serious illness, (Charles) would've taken them to the doctor."
Family members and friends said there were no red flags before the murders, no signs of abuse in the home and no indications the boy was troubled.
A 25-year-old brother said he was at his parents' home just 10 minutes before their deaths and the kids were running around and "everybody was having a good time."
He said the boy volunteered at the church and worked as a greeter during Sunday services.
Charles and Marilyn Long, both in their early 50s, had seven children. Four are grown and no longer lived at the home. Marilyn Long home-schooled her children and ran the children's ministry at the local Evangelical Free Church close to their home. Her husband served as a church elder and was a delivery driver for Frito Lay.