BURLINGTON, Colo. (CBS4)- A boy accused of killing his parents and attacking his two younger siblings with a knife has agreed to plead guilty to murder charges. In exchange for the plea deal, the 13-year-old will not be tried as an adult.
The teen is accused of killing Marilyn and Charles Long in the family home in March. Both sides agree the plea agreement is less than perfect.
District Attorney Bob Watson said the boy, who was 12 at the time of the slayings, faces seven years in juvenile prison. If tried and convicted as an adult, the boy could have faced decades in prison.
“It is clear that a majority of the family believes this family should be tried in adult court,” said Watson.
The young murder suspect will serve 7-9 years in juvenile lockup.
“This was not an easy decision, nor one that I’m entirely happy with,” said Watson. “But unfortunately the current status of Colorado law forces us to choose between either an unacceptably light juvenile sentence or an unnecessarily harsh lifetime sentence.”
Some family members voiced their dissatisfaction with the plea deal, despite the fact that the accused is their flesh and blood.
“The family disagrees with the suggested plea agreement,” said the suspect’s cousin Michelle Funderburg. “I think it’s appalling that our justice system would allow him back in to society in seven years. I think it’s putting everyone at risk.”
“I’m very dissatisfied with the decision. I mean, he killed my brother. He should spend the rest of his life in prison. I don’t think he should ever get out. He doesn’t deserve to get out and I don’t think the rest of our family and society will be safe when he does get out,” said the suspect’s aunt Debra Long.
The boy’s public defender said the plea deal will allow healing.
“Our hope is that is that the entire Long family, including our client, can move forward and heal to the extent that that’s possible considering the immense pain and suffuering that they’re going through,” said Colorado Public Defender Dan King.
King also said there is a safeguard built into the system. If the boy turns 18 and is not cooperating with the treatment program in juvenile detention, the court could have his sentence moved into the adult system. It would be unusual for that to happen, but it is an option.
The actual plea is expected to happen in Burlington on Sept. 28.