Illinois Boy Charged in Fatal Fire to Be Evaluated by Expert

Goodfield trailer fire
Kevin Barlow, The Pantagraph

A 9-year-old boy charged in a central Illinois fire that killed five people, including family members, will be evaluated by a child trauma expert to determine if he’s fit to stand trial.

The boy’s attorney, Peter Dluski, sought the expert to see if the child understood the charges and the consequences, among other things, according to The Chicago Tribune.

“Based on my interaction and conversations with (the boy), as well as his age, I have a bona fide doubt as to his fitness to stand trial,” Dluski wrote in a Woodford County filing this month.

The next court date is in February.

The child was charged with murder and arson in an April mobile home fire in Goodfield that killed four relatives, including two half siblings and a cousin.

Dluski said he intends to keep the child out of court as much as possible. At an October hearing, the boy said he understood the charges, but not all the words used to explain them.

His mother has said he suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder.

Charging a young child is rare, something juvenile justice experts criticize.

The boy is staying with his father's relatives. A suspect younger than 10 cannot be detained under state law.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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