SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An 11-year-old boy accused of fatally stabbing a 12-year-old friend in the driveway of the younger boy's East County home is mentally incompetent to stand trial and will be sent to a residential treatment facility, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Juvenile Court Judge Cynthia Bashant made the ruling after reviewing reports from two doctors, who concluded the 11-year-old couldn't understand the court proceedings and couldn't assist his attorney at trial.
The accused was not present at Tuesday's hearing.
The then-10-year-old was charged with murder and assault in the Jan. 16 stabbing death of Ryan Carter.
The 10-year-old, Carter and another boy were playing with Nerf toys when the 10-year-old allegedly grabbed a kitchen knife and threatened to hurt the third boy. The victim was stabbed in the chest when he tried to intervene, authorities told Carter's parents.
The judge ruled the 11-year-old was mentally incompetent to stand trial because of developmental disabilities related to fetal-alcohol syndrome and other issues. She suspended criminal proceedings and ordered yearly reviews to determine if the accused can regain his competency through treatment.
Deputy District Attorney Victor Barr said the Juvenile Court controls what happens to the minor until age 21.
"This case is not over, I want that to be very clear," Barr said outside court. " ... it's in a matter of hibernation while the minor works toward becoming competent. Hopefully, with age and with treatment he will be competent, in a year, maybe longer, and we can move forward toward setting a trial and getting accountability in this case and justice for Ryan Carter and his family."
Barr told the judge that the accused was a danger to others and his placement in a secure treatment facility ensures he won't be released back into the community.
A hearing is scheduled Sept. 18 to determine a suitable residential treatment facility for the minor.
The judge said the minor's biological mother used various drugs and alcohol during her pregnancy and ultimately lost parental rights to the child.
The boy suffered a significant head injury at 26 weeks in foster care and has always been prone to emotional outbursts and has displayed maturity below children his own age, the judge said.
Defense attorney Marian Gaston said the minor's adoptive mother is in agreement with the decision to send the boy into treatment.