In August, prosecutors and defense attorneys crafted a deal to sentence the thirteen-year-old Burlington boy who killed parents Charles and Marilyn Long and wounded two siblings as a juvenile. Why? Questions were answered yesterday at a hearing finalizing the pact, at which the boy was portrayed as an emotionally immature child who'd been playing in a sandpit moments before the slayings.
As we've reported, the Long family, based in remote Burlington, seemed to be a large, loving and deeply religious clan, but with an adventurous spirit. For example, father Charles was a member of a Seventh-Day Adventist prayer group, but also a unicyclist and guitarist whose Facebook page saluted both the Bible and Ted Nugent. His match with his wife, Marilyn, seemed rock solid -- and outsiders saw their relationship with their children as ideal.
No wonder authorities were so shocked when they responded to a call from the boy about a shooting. They found Charles and Marilyn dead and his younger sister and brother grievously wounded. The five-foot-tall, 75-pounder, who was twelve at the time of his arrest, allegedly used a knife on his five-year-old sister Sarah, a gun and a knife on nine-year-old brother Ethan. The wounds were so serious that it wasn't immediately clear they'd survive them.
Fortunately, they did -- and they're reportedly doing well in the custody of their uncle, Wally Long.
Meanwhile, nine charges were leveled against the twelve-year-old, including two counts of first-degree murder, two attempted first-degree murder beefs, three first-degree assault allegations, and two accusations connected to his status as an accused aggravated juvenile offender.
Given the level of gore and the body count, calls to try the boy in adult court quickly surfaced -- but while local authorities took their time determining the right course of action, they ultimately chose to take the juvenile path. A photo of the boy's room noted in Denver Post coverage suggests why: In it, his floor is completely covered with Lego blocks on which he spent all his money.
He also worked on building projects in the sandpit near the family house. His last project involved a wooden bridge, toy trucks and a baseball bat used not for violence, but as an imaginary control tower.
Such flights of fancy contrasted with the rest of his life, which was depicted as lonely and isolated, according to the Post. His main outside activities revolved around the church to which his folks were so devoted.
At this point, the boy appears to be adapting well to the juvenile facility in Greeley where he's currently being held. He'll spend the next seven years there, or in places like it, after which a 21-month probationary sentence will be imposed.
Family members appear divided over whether this approach is proper or not. Some called for him to be locked away for life and fear for the safety of Ethan and Sarah upon his release. But authorities believe they did the right thing -- or at least as right as possible given the horrific circumstances.
Look below to see a CNN interview featuring Wally Long and the boy's older brother, Jacob; a Denver Post video highlighting a press conference about the killings; and a 9News report about a vigil staged in the wake of the killings.