A 16-year-old Washington state boy is set to be arraigned today on charges that he bound his 8-year-old neighbor with duct tape and fatally injected him with a massive dose of insulin because the child was "bugging" him.
Ryan Alexander of Bellingham, Wash., pleaded not guilty Thursday during a bail hearing in Whatcom County Superior Court, and bail was set at $1 million. He was charged last week with aggravated first-degree murder in the April 19 death of 8-year-old Michael Busby, a neighbor who Alexander said had been "bugging" him.
Prosecutors said that Alexander brought the boy to a field near their homes, tied him up with duct tape, choked him with a stick and then injected him with a fatal dose of insulin.
They said after the boy died, Alexander took a razor blade and sliced deep gashes into the body.
Alexander is charged as an adult, and would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted. He is too young to receive the death penalty.
If Alexander's family is able to post bail, another hearing will be held to determine whether further conditions are needed before his release, the prosecutor's office said. It is likely that Alexander would not be allowed within one mile of Busby's home, which is across the street from the house where his family lives, according to Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Mac Setter.
The prosecutor said that Alexander was under house detention from school, subject to random calls from a computerized system to determine his whereabouts, when the alleged crime occurred.
Allegations of Mental Problems
Alexander's lawyer, public defender Eric Weight, said Thursday that he would seek to get a confession the boy gave to police in a squad car shortly after his arrest declared inadmissible as evidence, because of the teenager's mental problems.
He also said that police acted improperly when they treated the boy as they would any adult suspect.
"Juveniles are more inclined, psychologically, to admit things they might not necessarily have done," Weight said after the hearing Thursday.
"He's 16," Weight said. "Do you let 16-year-olds go off to war? Do we have 16-year-olds drinking? There are any number of factors about the development of an adolescent we have to consider."
There was other evidence besides the confession, including an adult witness who was in the field at the same time it was believed that Busby was killed, Setter said Thursday. The man told police he talked to a teenager who matched Alexander's description and the youth persuaded him not to walk in the direction of where Busby's body was found, the prosecutor said.
Police also found razor blades, insulin capsules and duct tape near Busby's body, and identical items were found at the 16-year-old's home, according to the prosecutor.
The boy's lawyer also said he will file a motion to get Alexander tried as a child, not an adult.
He claimed that despite the nature of the crime he is accused of committing, the boy's emotional and psychological problems make this a case that should be in juvenile court, because those courts are "designed for rehabilitation."
"There are issues in this case relative to mental health," he said. "In fact, once we retain expert opinion on this, I think that we'll find that though this  is his chronological age, his maturity age and other factors are significantly lower."
One neighbor of the two boys said she feared for the safety of other children if Alexander is released on bail, but said that if he is to be let out to await trial, it would be better if he were kept where people know him.
"A mile away isn't going to help any of those other little children," neighborhood resident Gina Hecock said. "If he stays on the little corner where he lives right now, at least we know about Ryan and we can keep an eye on him."
Then Hecock added that she felt the charges that he killed Busby should be enough to keep Ryan locked up.
"I hate to say that Michael died for all our kids, but he did. And if this is what is takes to get Ryan put away for life, so be it," she said.
ABC affiliate KOMO contributed to this report.