Family identifies son killed by playmate

WINTER GARDENS, Calif. -- Family members of a 12-year-old boy who was stabbed to death by a playmate released a photo of the victim Tuesday.

Authorities did not release the deceased boy's name, but his family identified him to reporters as Ryan Carter, a sixth-grader at Foothills Christian Elementary School.

"He was our only child," Lisa Carter told the U-T San Diego Tuesday. "I tried for 10 years to conceive him."

Neighbors said the 10-year-old boy accused of fatally stabbing Carter was a troubled youngster prone to outbursts of anger and aggression. But Carter told the U-T that the boy was "not some monster."

"Please don't make it out that he was this terrible human being," the distraught mother told the newspaper.

"On a global scale, it is rare that kids actually get aggressive and violent toward each other," said Dr. Chris Rich, a psychiatrist at Rady Children's Hospital.

It may be rare, but it happened Monday on a driveway in the 12500 block of Royal Road in the unincorporated Winter Gardens area, near El Cajon.  The younger child allegedly stabbed the older boy in the chest about 1:15 p.m.

Medics took the mortally wounded boy to Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, where he was pronounced dead about 2:30 p.m., sheriff's Lt. Larry Nesbit said.

Sheriff's officials also withheld the alleged assailant's identity, as is standard in cases involving underage criminal suspects. He was booked into juvenile hall, where he was expected to remain while prosecutors review the case and decide whether a trial is warranted.

A spokesperson with the District Attorney's office said because of his age the alleged suspect would not be charged as an adult for the crime.  Under California state law, only children 14 or older can be charged as adults.

Nesbit declined to comment on what might have prompted the suspect to carry out the fatal assault in front of his home with a kitchen knife.

The suspect's anger management challenges were no secret, according to neighbors.

"Even though he threw temper tantrums, we never thought he's do anything like this,'' 18-year-old neighbor Derek Gorton told Fox 5 News.

Gorton's father, Brian Richeson, said the younger boy usually expressed his aggression verbally and that his mother was trying hard to handle the problem.

The suspect was undergoing therapy and taking prescription drugs for his behavioral issues, according to neighbors.

  "They had just changed his medication about two or three weeks ago,'' Richeson told KGTV.

Another area resident, Maria Marmolejo, said the suspect gave her son a black eye during a scuffle last week.

"(His) mother ... told me that he was on the medication and the medication (did not) work at that moment, so I was scared, because I saw the kid (was) really aggressive,'' she told the news station.

Marmolejo said she reported the incident to police, who told her there was little they could do about it.

Although he doesn't know the victim or the suspect, Dr. Rich works with children who may be struggling with anger issues. 

"Usually it is out of some sort of frustration, some sort of need that's not being met," he said.  "And so they end up acting out physically because they have not learned coping skills to deal with those feelings or emotions so they express it physically rather than talk about it."

He said there are a couple of signs parents can look to if they believe their children may be having problems communicating their frustration.

"I think when kids are having difficulty in school with their siblings, they're fighting more, they're getting suspended, i think those are concerning signs," Rich said.

The young suspect was taken to Juvenile Hall Monday night.  It will be up to a juvenile court judge to determine his fate, which could be anything from probation and treatment to confinement in a state institution until the age of 25.