Ohio prosecutors are considering whether to seek a classification that would ensure that a 10-year-old Ohio boy accused of killing his mom could be kept in prison beyond the age of 21 if they believe it is necessary.
The prosecutor's office will soon determine if they will seek to have the boy, who will not be tried as an adult, declared as a serious youth offender.
That determination opens the possibility that the 10-year-old boy could be assigned an adult sentence if convicted. That sentence would come into play at the completion of his juvenile sentence if he has infractions during his time in juvenile detention.
Without that designation, the boy would have to be released upon his 21st birthday, even if convicted of murder.
"You have to keep it in perspective. It's not like I have 10-year-old homicides every day. To say that this is not unique would not be correct," said Sean Warner, Holmes County juvenile assistant prosecutor. "I still have information coming in and I'm reviewing the file now."
The boy allegedly shot and killed his 46-year-old mother Deborah McVay on Sunday night. An argument over firewood may have triggered a heated argument that resulted in the death, police have said. McVay was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head in the family's modest home – an apartment converted from a two-car garage - in Big Prarie.
Authorities found four weapons in the boy's bedroom, including the .22 caliber rifle found on his bed which is believed to be the murder weapon. Two other .22 caliber rifles were mounted to the wall and a 12-gauge shotgun was also on the boy's bed.
The prosecutor's office has 20 days from this past Monday's court hearing to decide whether they will move to classify him as a serious youth offender. Determining factors include whether he has previously been through the juvenile detention system or a history of violent crimes, or whether a crime is so violent that the serious youth offender classification is necessary.
"Because of what happened, even though a person hasn't been through the system, you want to give the court the option to have more means to deal with them in the future," said Steve Knowling, prosecutor for Holmes County.
"And if we don't do that, the court would lose jurisdiction when he is 21 and we would have no options available at that point," Knowling said.
The boy's attorney, Andy Hyde, was not able to be reached for comment, despite numerous attempts.