house on fire
In this photo, a firefighter tries to put out a fire in 'La Hune' book shop in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres district, Paris, Nov. 16, 2017. Getty Images / Karim Daher

The lawyer of a 9-year-old boy, who is charged with five counts of murder, expressed doubts on his client's fitness to stand trial. The juvenile allegedly set their mobile home ablaze which killed five of his relatives.

“Based on my interaction and conversation with (the boy), as well as his age, I have a bona fide doubt as to his fitness to stand trial,” Peter Dluski, the boy’s court-appointed attorney, wrote in a motion, Daily News reported.

The trailer home caught fire at around 11 p.m. on April 6, 2019, at the Timberline Mobile Home Park near Goodfield, southeast of Peoria, the New York Post reported. When the firefighters arrived just a few minutes later, the mobile home was already ablaze.

The trailer’s occupants were asleep at the time the fire occurred. As a result, only the 9-year-old suspect and his mother, Katie Alwood, escaped the burning home alive.

Five of their relatives were killed in the blaze. They are 2-year old Daeman Wall, 1-year-old Ariel Wall, 69-year-old Kathryn Murphy, 34-year-old Jason Wall, and 2-year-old Rose Wall. All died of smoke inhalation based on autopsies.

Aside from five counts of first-degree murder, the 9-year-old boy was also charged with three counts of arson. While it is yet unclear how the fire started, prosecutors have been arguing that the young suspect intentionally set the mobile home on fire.

But charging the boy with murder has been met by criticisms from activists. “Everyone is looking at him like he’s some kind of monster, but that’s not who he is,” the boy’s mom, Katie told CBS.

While what happened was tragic, Alwood said that charging someone as young as his son seems a bit too much. “People make mistakes, and that’s what this is,” Alwood added. “Yes, it was a horrible tragedy, but it’s still not something to throw his life away over.”

Alwood lost custody of her son due to the fire. While officials are still trying to determine if the boy’s father can be his guardian, the young suspect is temporarily living with relatives. Under state law, suspects below 10 years of age cannot be detained.

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