A 9-year-old child in central Illinois has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder. The juvenile was accused of causing a mobile home fire which reportedly killed three children and two adults. According to media reports, the juvenile was charged with both arson and aggravated arson. The incident occurred on April 6 which resulted in taking the lives of a one-year-old, 2 two-year-old and, a 34-year-old man and a 69-year-old woman at the Timberline Mobile Home Park near the village of Goodfield, which is situated about 150 miles southwest of Chicago. Greg Minger, the state attorney of Woodford County did not reveal other details about the suspect, including a possible relationship to the victims.
According to the Northeastern University mass murder database, no child as young as this one has been accused of a mass killing since at least 2006. It keeps a record of all US homicides since when four or more people were killed over a short span of time irrespective of weapon, location, victim-offender relationship or motive. Minger said he sifted through several reports related to fire before proceeding with the prosecution. The Woodford County Coroner Tim Ruestman said the fire was started intentionally. Minger said it is a tragedy and on the other hand, the case is charging a very young person with one of the most serious crimes. The major challenge for prosecutors is to prove the child who formed an intent to kill in advance, which is required in first-degree murder cases, explained by Gus Kostopoulos, a prosecutor-turned-juvenile defense lawyer in Chicago.
A senior advocate of Illinois criticized the criminal justice system and condemned the decision to charge a too-young child with murder. Minger said no arrest warrant is to be issued for the suspect. He said, the suspect will be provided an attorney and will be subject to a bench trial in front of a judge. According to Illinois law, a suspect younger than 10 cannot be detained. Also, a minor is not given a public jury trial and not entitled to one unless the minor is charged as an adult.