CALDWELL, Idaho – An Idaho prosecutor says dozens of people have called, faxed or e-mailed his office to protest the first-degree murder charge filed against a 14-year-old in the shooting death of his father.
Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak said the protests – more than 50 people contacted his office Friday – have also centered on the eighth-grader being charged as an adult and held at the county jail.
Zachary Neagle remains in protective custody, separate from adult inmates at the Canyon County Jail, and he can have visitors, said Bujak, adding that he is personally handling the case to ensure the boy’s rights are protected.
Magistrate Judge Robert Taisey has set bail at $300,000.
The boy, one of three children at the home when the shooting occurred, was arrested on Tuesday and arraigned on the murder charge Wednesday in 3rd District Court.
Police say his father, 33-year-old Jason Neagle, was shot and died Saturday of a single gunshot wound while sleeping on a couch at his Caldwell home in southwest Idaho.
Bujak said the shooting appears to be a premeditated act but he does not plan to seek the death penalty, and he could amend the charge if there was justifiable reason for the shooting.
Authorities are still processing evidence collected at the home after the May 16 shooting and have not outlined a possible motive.
John Carey, a former stepfather to the boy, said Zachary Neagle was the oldest of three children and took responsibility for his younger siblings and his mother, who was often sick and hospitalized a couple weeks ago.
“This boy took on a lot of burden for his mother and put up with a lot from his father,” Carey told the Idaho Statesman.
A preliminary hearing in the case has been scheduled June 2.
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