ST. JOHNS, AZ - A clinical psychologist who has been meeting with an Arizona boy sentenced on a negligent homicide charge testified Friday that he sees improvement in the boy and even offered up his own home for continued treatment.
Dr. Alan Lewis has been treating the 12-year-old boy for months at a Phoenix facility where he's been housed since pleading guilty in the 2008 death of Tim Romans.
Lewis' comments came during a hearing in St. Johns in which the boy was set to be sentenced on a trio of probation violations -- twice leaving the treatment center without permission and smashing a wall clock. He testified that he doesn't believe the boy is a risk and would take him into foster care if he could be granted an emergency license to do so, according to the boy's attorney, Ron Wood.
"He knows this kid," Wood said. "I see an improvement in him because I see that he has a relationship with this doctor that is remarkable. (The boy) has a sense of humor, he understands his conduct, his attitude is changing. He no longer acts in an aggressive manner with other people but rather, he verbalizes it."
After hearing from Lewis, the judge, the prosecution and the defense agreed that they weren't ready to proceed with a punishment. Sentencing was reset to Oct. 19, with a status conference scheduled the week before in Apache County Superior Court.
In the meantime, the parties are looking for alternate placements for the boy that could include a therapeutic foster home, another residential treatment center or the state juvenile corrections department.
At least one other doctor who evaluated the boy recommended a similar treatment facility that also is in Maricopa County or one specifically for boys, but Wood said those recommendations were made without consultation with Lewis.
Lewis said that while the boy committed one incident that suggests he could be dangerous, he doesn't have adult thinking patterns and hasn't done anything else to conclude he's dangerous.
The boy was 8 when he was charged with killing his father and Romans in a case that shocked the country, mainly because of the boy's age. He reached an agreement with prosecutors over Roman's death, and a murder charge against him in his father's death was dropped.
The boy, whom The Associated Press has not identified because of his age, is on intensive probation until he's 18.
Earlier this year, prosecutors accused him of violating probation and brought 25 charges against him. The boy pleaded guilty to three of those charges and the rest were dropped.