The mother of a 9-year-old boy accused of murdering five people by setting a house on fire said her son is not a cold-blooded killer, CBS News reports.
“Everyone is looking at him like he’s some kind of monster, but that’s not who he is,” Katie Alwood told CBS News. “People make mistakes, and that’s what this is. Yes, it was a horrible tragedy, but it’s still not something to throw his life away over.”
Alwood’s son, whose name has not been released because of his age, is facing five counts of first-degree murder in connection with an April fire in the town of Goodfield, Illinois, approximately 150 miles southwest of Chicago.
Can a 9-year-old have an intent to kill? An Illinois mother, whose son is charged with 5 counts of first-degree murder after allegedly setting fire intentionally to a house filled with his sleeping family members, says no. Of the 5 killed, two were Katie Alwood's other children. pic.twitter.com/1Zd0r5OXYB
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) October 10, 2019
Authorities have determined the blaze was set intentionally, in which Alwood’s two other children, a niece, her fiancé, and a grandmother died: Ariel Wall, 1; Rose Alwood, 2; Damien Wall, 2; Jason Wall, 34; and Kathryn Murray, 69.
Alwood said she heard her fiancé scream before he died.
“I don’t know what’s worse,” Alwood told CBS News. “Hearing him scream, or when it stopped.”
Alwood said her son did not intend to kill the victims. The boy took daily medication for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and ADHD, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“Even though he lit the fire, I know his intentions were not to kill anybody,” Alwood told CBS. “I know that. He cries and cries and cries because he misses his family.”
Legal experts told Oxygen.com the boy is unlike to face prison time because the minimum age for incarceration is 10 years old.
But the boy’s aunt, whose 2-year-old daughter Rose Alwood died in the blaze, thinks prison should be considered.
“It hurts knowing that I won’t get to see her first day of school,” she told the Tribune. “I won’t get to see her first tooth fall out. I won’t get to see her become someone amazing.”
The brother of Alwood’s fiancé also wants to see the boy locked up.
“I think they should throw him in prison,” John Wall told the Journal Star.
Woodford County State’s Attorney Gregory Minger told the Journal Star that deciding to prosecute was not an easy decision.
“It’s a tragedy, but at the end of the day it’s charging a very young person with one of the most serious crimes we have,” Minger told the Journal Star. “But I just think it needs to be done at this point, for finality.”
That decision has been criticized. Elizabeth Clarke, president and founder of Juvenile Justice Initiative, told Oxygen.com that prosecuting young children for crime in the United States is somewhat unique in the world.
“Murder among juveniles, period, is extremely rare,” Clarke told the website. “It’s shocking to charge a 9-year-old criminally.”
The boy also has been charged with two counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson.
NBC News reports that the boy is be appointed a defense attorney and will be tried before a judge.
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