Expert says boy accused of murdering mom is on autism spectrum

judge

GREENVILLE, SC  – A Greenville teen accused of stabbing his mother to death will learn Wednesday if he will be tried as an adult in court.

The two-day family court hearing started Tuesday. The state played the one hour interview that was recorded when the teen was brought in for questioning.

In that recorded interview, the teen can be heard saying he’d thought about killing his mother for a while.

The teen also says he showered fully clothed after “killing her around 9[pm] with a kitchen knife.”

The defense argued that the boy was diagnosed with autism and, despite being very bright and having “straight A’s”, his social and emotional disabilities kept him from fully understanding his actions and what he was confessing to.

A psychologist testified Wednesday that the boy is highly functioning on the autism spectrum.

She is also testifying about intervention programs and how this teen, considering his diagnosis, could or could not benefit.

She said at the time of her evaluation, she could not say whether or not the boy would repeat his behavior.

The State is making the point that this could hinder rehabilitation.

Earlier Tuesday, an investigator and a school resource officer testified that the boy had posted social media messages claiming he wanted to be a serial killer.

The same investigator revealed through the autopsy report that Zuluago was stabbed 28 times and said the body was left nude in a staged position on the floor of the teen’s bedroom.

Greenville County Sheriff’s Investigator Antonio Bailey led the interview with the teen and explained to the court why the boy said he killed his mom.

“One of the things is he indicated he wanted to be free. He wanted to live alone, but he ultimately said that he’d rather not tell me why,” said Bailey.

The State rested for the evening following the conclusion of Bailey’s testimony.

The boy was just thirteen when he confessed to killing Isabel Zuluago at their Simpsonville home in 2015, according to officials.

Deputies say the body was found the next morning by a contractor who, after speaking to the boy, found blood dripping from through the floor in the crawl space under the home.

Deputies picked the teen up in Spartanburg walking along the highway the morning after the stabbing.

The State said he left the house after meeting the contractor, but had originally planned to leave earlier with some of his mother’s cash. However, they said the teen explained he fell asleep following the murder and that plan didn’t happen.

The state says the knife was found in the home, with the tip broken due to force of the blows.