A 10-year-old boy was charged as a juvenile with murder in the fatal shooting of his mother after authorities said he told a neighbour about the killing.

The boy appeared on Monday in a Holmes County courtroom with his attorney, who entered the juvenile equivalent of a not guilty plea. A judge ordered that the boy remain in Richland County Juvenile Detention as authorities investigate the shooting.

Deborah McVay, 46, was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head on Sunday night in Big Prairie, located about midway between Cleveland and Columbus, Holmes County Sheriff Tim Zimmerly said. Paramedics found McVay lying facedown on her living room floor, and she was pronounced dead at the scene, Sheriff Zimmerly said.

Authorities went to the house, in rolling farmland, after a neighbour called a sheriff’s dispatcher to say McVay’s son had come to her home and said he had just shot his mother.

Another neighbour who knew the boy said the allegations were shocking. Ron Martin, 43, said the boy occasionally visited Martin’s family to swim in their pool.

“He wasn’t a bad kid, but he has had some problems in the school,” Mr. Martin said. “Never anything that you would have dreamed that he would go out and shoot his mother.”

County Prosecutor Steve Knowling said authorities do not plan to prosecute the boy as an adult. Defence attorney Andrew Hyde said he plans to argue for the boy’s release so he can stay with a family member.

Hyde said he did not have the facts of the case, including any information on whether the shooting may have been accidental, and couldn’t comment further.

Outside McVay’s home on Monday, another son, 21-year-old Josh Mike, described her as “a very loving lady” who ran her own home health care business and served the mentally disabled. He would not comment on the allegations against his brother.

The sheriff said McVay has a 15-year-old daughter who is staying with relatives. It is unclear whether she witnessed the shooting. It’s also unclear whether McVay is married.

Mr. Knowling said that in more than two decades working in the legal system in the county, he has not seen a similar case.

“We don’t have homicides here, period,” he said. “I’ve got nothing to compare it to.”

McVay’s body was transported to the Stark County Coroner’s office for an autopsy. Results were expected on Tuesday.

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