- Associated Press - Sunday, June 15, 2014

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) - A 14-year-old boy accused of killing his father and younger brother cited the stress of having a disabled child in the household when asked to explain his actions, according to information disclosed in court.

Eldon Gale Samuel III is being charged as an adult in the killing of his father, Eldon Samuel Jr., 46, and his brother, Jonathan Samuel, 13, on March 24.

The boy told authorities that Jonathan Samuel’s autism caused stress that was responsible for his father’s addiction to painkillers and his mother’s decision to leave the family, 1st District Magistrate Judge Barry Watson said during a hearing Friday.

“Eldon, when asked why he did what he did, said ‘If he wasn’t there . we’d be a happy family,’” Watson said.

The Spokesman-Review reports (https://bit.ly/SJSLMJ ) that Samuel initially was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of his father and brother. However, Watson said he was changing the charge to second-degree murder in the death of the father after the younger Samuel said his father beat him when he was on medication and threatened to kill him.

The father died of a gunshot wound to the stomach from a .45-caliber pistol. He was shot in the face and head after he was dead, according to autopsy results.

Jonathan Samuel, who was hiding under a bed, died of multiple gunshots, but also was stabbed with a knife and hacked with a machete, the autopsy said.

At the request of the public defender’s office, which is representing Samuel, his preliminary hearing last week was closed to the public. But Watson recapped testimony from witnesses in court on Friday, when he explained his decision for changing the murder charges. There’s a stronger case for premeditation in Jonathan Samuel’s death, he said.

Samuel described “hating Jonathan for about five years” when he was questioned by police after his arrest, Watson said. Samuel told officers that he loved his father but that his father acted crazy when he was on drugs, Watson said.

“He just beat me. I loved him, but the next time he came after me .,” Samuel told police officers in a report quoted by Watson. “That’s self-defense, right?”

Witnesses who testified at Samuel’s preliminary hearing described a reclusive, dysfunctional family, with a father who was inebriated and the two boys left on their own, according to Watson’s account.

Though Samuel waived his right to talk to an attorney before confessing to police after he was taken into custody, Watson said he has concerns about the process because police never asked if he wanted an attorney.

Samuel didn’t understand some of the words the police officers used when they questioned him, Watson said. And Public Defender John Adams, who had heard about the shooting, wasn’t allowed to see Samuel when he went to the police station, Watson said.

When the case goes to trial, the court will have to take a hard look at the admissibility of some of Samuel’s statements, Watson said.

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