A 9-year-old has been charged with murder in the shooting death of his mother near Sturgis.
The victim was identified in court records as 51-year-old Pauline Randol.
The boy, whose name 24 Hour News 8 is not using because of his age and the early stage of the case, has been arraigned on a count of open murder and a felony weapons charge.
“I want people to know that he’s not a bad kid,” the boy’s sister, Harley Martin, told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday. “He loved his mom. I don’t want people to think he did not love his mom.”
Randol adopted the boy about two years ago. Martin said he came from a troubled situation, saying his biological mother used meth during her pregnancy. She added the boy has a history of mental health issues, that he had “just recently started snapping” and that he was on a new medication.
She said he’s confused about what’s going on. In court Tuesday, he asked where his mom was.
“He doesn’t know what he did. He doesn’t understand what’s going on right now at all,” Martin said. “He doesn’t understand why he can’t come home or anything.”
The shooting happened Monday at a home on Plumb School Road near US-12 in Fawn River Township, east of Sturgis. Court records say Randol was shot with a rifle. Martin said her body was found in the living room.
“He’s traumatized by what he saw in there. That’s all he told my dad about was seeing that,” Martin said. “It’s going to mess him up for a really long time because he does not realize what he’s done.”
Neighbor Joseph Lancaster said the boy had previously shot at his grandchildren with a bow and arrow.
Martin said her mother had expressed concerns about the boy’s mental health and that he might hurt someone.
“She had told her doctor one time she was so scared she was raising the next serial killer,” Martin said.
But no one in the family expected him to hurt Randol, she said.
She described her little brother as a “typical little boy,” who loves fishing and hunting.
Her mother, she said, was “an amazing woman” who would “stop anything on a dime to help anybody.”
“She would do it all over again if she had to, and that’s the messed up part,” Martin said. “I know she’s at peace. I know she still loves him and I know she would not want people thinking bad of him.”
In a statement, the boy’s attorney T.J. Reed said he could not comment on the specifics of the case, saying it was “important to allow this case to properly move through the legal process and not to pre-judge this child based on partial or unknown facts.”
“Based on the severity of the charges and the age of the accused it is important to keep focused on the future and long term impact these proceedings and charges may have on a child of this age,” the statement read in part.
St. Joseph County Sheriff Brad Balk says the boy was sent for a psychiatric evaluation at a state-run juvenile facility, the Associated Press reports.