A video in which an 8-year-old Arizona boy apparently confessed to shooting his father may not be admissible as evidence in court, experts told ABC News.
The hour-long video shows two female police officers talking with the boy, who did not have legal counsel or another adult present. In the video, the officers also failed to advise the child of his right to remain silent or to be represented by a lawyer.
After the apparent confession Nov. 6, the boy was charged with two counts of premeditated murder for allegedly shooting his father, 29-year-old Vincent Romero, and his father's friend, 39-year-old Timothy Romans, with a .22 rifle.
"I think that whoever is going to be representing [the boy] is going to knock that [the video] out with a feather," said Lynne Gold-Bikin, former chairwoman of the American Bar Association's section of family law. "Everything was violated. That's really outrageous."
The reported confession came about 40 minutes into the tape, after the boy had changed his story several times about the events of Nov. 5 that led to the death of his father and his father's friend.
"I went upstairs, and then I saw my dad, and then I got the gun, and then I fired it at my dad," the boy said calmly in the video. "He was on the ground, and then I reloaded it."
That confession, however clearly stated, might not ever be shown in court because of what experts said was a violation of the child's juvenile Miranda rights.
"He should not have been questioned without an adult being there," said Meridith Sopher, who works in the juvenile rights practice at the Legal Aid Society. "I think as the interview progresses, there are clearly points where they should have stopped it and gotten him an attorney."
The line between a witness, to whom police legally do not have to read rights, and a potential suspect is often a blurry one. But according to Monica Lindstrom, a former Arizona prosecutor, in this case it was clear.
"They're questioning him like he's a suspect or a defendant," she told ABC News. "Those kinds of questions, saying, 'Well, I heard a story that ...' -- those are all things that you do in an interrogation. The defense will argue that since his rights were violated, the confession should be suppressed."
"Once he changed from a witness to a suspect, they had to stop the interrogation and give him notice," agreed Gold-Bikin.
If the defense challenges the admission of the video as evidence, a judge would determine whether or not it is allowed. The consequences of such a decision could present a major advantage to either side.
"If [the judge] kicks it out -- the video and confession -- that's a big plus for the defense," Lindstrom said. "Now the prosecution needs more than the confession; they need forensic evidence. If it does come in, the kid's pretty much a delinquent and guilty. It's a big decision."
At the start of the questioning, the boy said he was not in the house when his father and his father's friend were shot and guessed that "someone bad" from "down the street" had probably done it.
"I wasn't shooting any guns," he said.
Then, after police told him they could tell if he had shot a gun, he began to retrace his steps.
"I think I may have shot the gun," he said.
The child said he shot his father only after he found him upstairs already shot with "like a puddle of blood around his head."