9yo charged with murdering his family
A nine-year-old boy who could barely see above his chair in court, and whose feet couldn't touch the ground, has been charged with five counts of murder after a fire he allegedly started killed five family members.
Prosecutors in the case said Kyle Alwood intentionally set the fire which killed most of his immediate family.
The boy reportedly seemed "confused" during a hearing in an Illinois court, after allegedly intentionally setting his family's mobile home on fire on April 6.
CBS News in the US reported that Kyle could hardly be seen above the back of his chair, and that his feet could barely touch the ground. His lawyer reportedly had to explain some of the terms used in court, including "alleged", "arson" and "residents".
The little boy cried as he left the court with his grandparents, who are also his foster guardians, the Journal Star reported.
Meanwhile, Kyle's mother Katie Alwood has been slapped with a gag order, to stop her talking about the case.
She spoke with CBS News shortly after the tragedy, and cried as she talked about her son.
"Everyone is looking at him like he's some kind of monster, but that's not who he is," Alwood said, adding, "People make mistakes and that's what this is. Yes, it was a horrible tragedy, but it's still not something to throw his life away over."
The boy is due back in court on November 22 but because of his age, cannot be held in custody between hearings.
The fire killed Kyle's two half-siblings, one-year-old Ariel and two-year-old Daemeon Wall; and his cousin, Rose Alwood, aged two.
Kyle's stepfather, 34-year-old Jason Wall, and the children's maternal great-grandmother, 69-year-old Kathryn Murray also died.
Authorities said the victims died of smoke inhalation inside the family's mobile home at Timberline Mobile Home Park.
Katie Alwood was in the home when the fire broke out. Most of the victims were sleeping, and Alwood was only able to save herself.
"I stood at the window and I told my kids I was sorry I couldn't save them," Katie Alwood told CBS News. "Mommy was right here and I loved them. You know, so, at least hopefully they heard that. I told Jason I loved him … And then something told me that they're gone."
CBS news asked the woman to describe the moment she could hear her fiance and family members "screaming".
"I don't know what's worse. Hearing him scream or when it stopped," Katie Alwood said.
Katie Alwood said her son had recently been diagnosed with several mental health disorders, including a form of schizophrenia, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. She said her son was "a loving boy" who "deserved a second chance".
Katie Alwood's sister, Samantha, lost her daughter Rose in the blaze and, unlike Katie, wants her nephew to face a severe punishment.
"I think he should go somewhere until he's legal age to go to juvie," Samantha Alwood told CBS News. "Then I think he should go to juvie. And then from juvie to prison. Because at the end of the day, whether he meant to or not, he knew what fire did."
Katie Alwood said she "forgives" her son and that she loved him "no matter what".
Prosecutors defended their decision to file murder charges, but that Kyle is only expected to face probation.