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10-year-old accused of killing friend to undergo tests

January 19, 2012 | 11:06 am

Ryan CarterA 10-year-old boy accused of stabbing a 12-year-old friend to death will be evaluated to determine whether he is competent to stand trial on murder and felony assault charges, a judge said Thursday in San Diego.

The boy fidgeted and cracked his knuckles throughout the hearing, which was his first appearance in court since he allegedly killed Ryan Carter on Monday after Carter tried to break up a fight with another boy.

The younger boy, neighbors said, suffered from emotional issues and was prone to bouts of anger, but they expressed shock that he was capable of such violence.

Carter was the younger boy’s best friend, and the two were often seen playing together on the streets of their mobile home park near El Cajon, a suburb east of San Diego.

The boy, whose name was not released by authorities, is being tried as a juvenile and could potentially be incarcerated until he is 25 years old, according to prosecutors.

Under state law, a child must be at least 14 years old to be tried as an adult. Prosecutors would not comment on their decision to file murder charges and declined to provide more details of the investigation.

“This is a tragic, tragic case for everyone involved,” said Dept. Dist. Atty. Victor Barr after the hearing.

The boy appeared restless in court, and a bailiff standing close behind him instructed him to sit up straight after he slumped his head on his arm. He seemed confused when the judge asked him to agree to appear at the next court hearing Feb. 23.

“Yes,” he finally said, in a hoarse voice, after a lengthy interaction with his attorney.

The child is being held at juvenile hall in San Diego, where he is complying with all the rules, according to Craig Stover, director of instutional services for the San Diego County probation department.

Carter was a sixth-grader at a Christian elementary school who scored straight A's and was known for breaking up fights in the neighborhood. An only child, his mother gave birth to him after 10 years of fertility treatments.

Ryan’s mother, Lisa Carter, in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune urged people not to judge her son’s younger friend, saying the 10-year-old was “not some monster.”

“Please don’t make it out that he was this terrible human being,” Carter said in the interview.

Neighbors said the child was adopted, and that his mother had struggled with the boy’s emotional issues. She gave him medication and sent him to doctors and counselors, neighbors said.

Carter’s family was not at the hearing, but the younger boy’s mother did attend, sitting somberly in one of the back rows of the courtroom.

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-- Rich Marosi in San Diego

Photo: Ryan Carter. Credit: Handout.

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