An attorney for a 10-year-old boy who was charged with murdering an elderly woman this week said his client’s alleged confession may have been subject to “intimidation” by police, raising “red flags” about his homicide rap.
“It seems there was some intimidation,” Bernard Brown said, CitizensVoice.com reports. “You can see through the writing of the affidavit, they seem to be double backing and re-interviewing [the boy] or his family.”
Police say the boy, who was charged as an adult on Monday with aggravated assault and homicide, admitted attacking 90-year-old Helen Novak with a cane and repeatedly punching her, which resulted in her death. The alleged attack occurred at the home of his grandfather, who helped care for Novak. In Pennsylvania, any child charged with murder is charged as an adult, according to the Juvenile Law Center.
His mother then took him to the police four hours later and said the boy admitted to assaulting Novak. When interviewed, the boy’s grandfather also said the boy admitted to attacking her. According to the arrest affidavit, the boy’s mother allowed him to be questioned alone, although one expert said a parent has no right to waive a right to attorney for his or her child.
“The defense can probably raise the argument the statement was not given voluntarily, it was compelled in conjunction with the mother,” said Al Flora, former chief public defender for Luzerne County.