Girl, 14, charged in stabbing death of mother's ex-boyfriend

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) -- A 14-year-old girl has been charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a former boyfriend of her mother.

Authorities say the teenager is also charged with burglary, arson, theft and conspiracy in the September death of Fred Boote Jr. in Wilkes-Barre. Reynaldo Mercado, 31, is charged with criminal homicide, robbery, burglary, arson, criminal conspiracy, theft, abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and interfering with the custody of a child.

Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, in announcing the new charges against the girl and additional charges against Mercado, vowed justice for the victim, who she said "was brutally and senselessly murdered in his own home."

Prosecutors said the girl's mother had dated Boote, 58, and they lived in his home earlier this year until he asked them to move out at the end of July. The family then moved in with Mercado, but after he lost his job, prosecutors allege that he and the girl planned to rob Boote.

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Authorities allege that the girl told investigators that she didn't believe Boote would be injured, so she want to his home early Sept. 14 and left the door unlocked so Mercado could get in. After Mercado attacked the victim, they allege, the girl ran to the kitchen and grabbed a knife "to scare Mercado to stop beating Boote," but he grabbed the knife and repeatedly stabbed the victim.

Prosecutors allege that Mercado tried to burn the body and other evidence and the two then fled but were found the next day at the West New York, New Jersey, home of a relative, where the defendant said he hoped to flee to the Dominican Republic.

The defendants declined comment Friday; the public defender's office, listed as representing Mercado, was unavailable for comment Saturday.