Boy, 15, Kills Father Over Bad Grades, Officials Say
A 15-year-old boy killed his father, then set the house, on fire because he was afraid his father would find out he was failing some classes, prosecutors said.
Ryan Watts was charged as an adult Friday in the slaying of his father, John E. Bruner, 50, who was initially believed to have died in the fire that engulfed the home, which he shared with his son, earlier this week.
The Santa Clara High School sophomore was arrested Wednesday after an autopsy determined that Bruner, whose body was badly burned, had died from multiple gunshot wounds and not from the fire, Santa Clara police said.
According to court documents, Watts took a handgun from his father’s bedroom safe and stashed it in his own room shortly before the killing.
“On Monday morning, he walked out of his house with the loaded .45-caliber handgun and a knife. Instead of going to school, he hid in his backyard and snuck back into his house,” Sgt. Wahid Kazem wrote in an affidavit filed with the court.
After shooting his father in the head, according to court documents, Watts set the body on fire because he was unable to carry it to the backyard, where he had planned to bury it. Watts stashed the gun and walked to Taco Bell, where he ate a couple of tacos, before returning home and calling 911 to report the fire, court documents said.
His parents apparently were separated, and he had been staying at his mother’s Sunnyvale home since the fire, police said.
Brad Syth, principal of Santa Clara High School, said Watts had no history of discipline or attendance problems.
If convicted, Watts faces life in prison; he is not eligible for the death penalty because he is a minor. Watts was expected to enter a plea Thursday, at his next court appearance.