A boy in custody on charges he stabbed and killed his best friend appeared before a judge for a status hearing Thursday.
The child is accused of murder and felony assault for the death of 12-year-old Ryan Carter of Lakeside.
Carter was stabbed at the suspect’s home on Royal Road on Jan. 16 while both children were off on a school holiday.
The victim’s family and friends said they have been told Carter was breaking up a fight when the stabbing occurred.
On Thursday, the judge greeted the defendant with a sincere "Good Morning" and the 10-year-old murder suspect responded with a single word: a quiet and respectful "Hi."
The little boy, who stands not even four feet tall, could not see or hear his adoptive mother cry quietly, as she watched the hearing from the spectator gallery behind her son, who looked straight ahead, or at his attorney, during the hearing in Department 7 at Juvenile Court.
Thursday's status hearing lasted just a few minutes.
The boy’s public defenders need more time to research the case, so both sides agreed to postpone the hearing until April 16th.
The boy's attorney also told Judge Carlos Armour that his client is getting "extraordinary care" from the staff at Juvenile Hall, and that their work is "deeply appreciated."
But at the end of the hearing, one of the attorneys or court staff told the child something that clearly upset him. He said "No!" in a rather loud voice, and buried his face in his arm, on the table.
The bailiff had already ordered reporters to leave the courtroom, so it's unclear how that emotional outburst ended, and none of the attorneys or court staff would explain why he was so upset.
His mother, accompanied by three friends and/or relatives, also left the courthouse without talking to reporters.
After the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Victor Barr did answer a few general, procedural questions about the case.
Barr said that in a case like this, the judge has already started reviewing medical and psychological reports prepared by court-appointed experts.
Barr said the defense now has almost two months to decide if it wants to move ahead with a trial, or to instead ask the judge to declare the child incompetent.
That request can be made for any of three reasons: mental health issues, developmental disability or "immaturity," which means the boy is too young and immature to understand what he allegedly did and what is happening to him now in court.
If the defense makes a motion to continue based on incompetency, and the Judge agrees, the boy could face a trial later, when the court deems him competent.
Cameras are not permitted to record hearings in juvenile court and it is NBCSanDiego’s policy not to name minors accused of a crime unless they are charged as adults.
Keep up to date on breaking news: Follow us on Twitter @nbcsandiego, fan us on Facebook, sign up for our breaking news e-mail alerts or text SDBREAKING to 622339 to receive text messages for local breaking news. (For more info, text HELP. To end, text STOP. Message and data rates may apply.)