house fire

Mental evaluation underway: 9-year-old sobs in court after charged with 5 murders

A 9-year-old Illinois boy who was accused of intentionally setting a fire that killed five of his relatives — including three children — will undergo an evaluation to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.

The Chicago Tribune reported that a childhood trauma expert is expected to evaluate Kyle Alwood after his court-appointed lawyer expressed concern about the boy’s ability to participate in court proceedings. In October, Alwood was charged with arson and five counts of murder for the April 6 mobile home fire in Goodfield which killed five family members.

The boy and his mother, Katie Alwood, escaped the deadly blaze. The suspected arson claimed the lives of Kyle Alwood’s half-siblings, Daemeon Wall, 2, and Ariel Wall, 1, and the toddlers’ father, Jason Wall, 34. The boy’s great grandmother and cousin, Kathryn Murphy, 69, and Rose Alwood, 2, also perished in the fire.

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During an October court hearing, the judge had to explain to Kyle Alwood the meaning of “alleged” and repeat the charges against him so he understood each term, according to the Tribune.

The defense attorney wrote in a December 20 motion that Kyle Alwood lacks the “knowledge and understanding of the charge, the proceedings, the consequences of a plea; … (his) ability to observe, recollect and relate occurrences; … (and his) social behavior and abilities, orientation as to time and place” — all which possibly affect his capacity to stand trial.

The news outlet reported that Kyle Alwood’s mother lost her parental rights in an unrelated protective custody case. Officials are reportedly deciding whether the boy’s father can care for him.

The boy’s mother told CBS News in October that her son was diagnosed with schizophrenia, ADHD, and bipolar disorder shortly before the fire.

Kyle Alwood is currently living with foster guardians related to his father. The 9-year-old cannot be held in custody on any charge due to his young age.

The Woodford County Journal reported that the next hearing is scheduled for February 27, presumably enough time to determine if Kyle Alwood is fit to stand trial.

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[Featured image: Kyle Alwood/CBS News]