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Boy Won’t Be Charged in Grandfather Death

November 15, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A 6-year-old boy suspected of fatally shooting his grandfather with a rifle will not face criminal charges, a court official said Friday.

Winston Rutledge, juvenile court administrator for Cole County, said he decided against certifying the boy to stand trial for several reasons, including the child’s age. Instead, the boy will be turned over to the juvenile court for treatment and supervision, Rutledge said in a statement.

Cole County Prosecutor Bill Tackett said he agreed with the decision. He said there was ample evidence to prove that the boy committed the shooting, but it would have been impossible to prove criminal intent.

Authorities said the boy shot James Zbinden, 59, on Nov. 7 with a .22-caliber rifle he found somewhere in the grandfather’s home. The two were alone at the time, and the boy ran outside after the shooting and flagged down a passing neighbor.

The boy has a history of violence and mental problems, and had been released four days earlier from a mental health facility where he had been sent for attacking his parents and siblings, sometimes with knives, Cole County Sheriff John Hemeyer said.

Few details of the boy’s background have been made public because of his age and medical privacy laws.

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