(ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) -- A Valencia County judge ruled Monday that an 8-year-old girl who officials say witnessed her 12-year-old brother fatally shoot their father will not testify, ABC affiliate KOAT reports.
Police say Emily Hilburn watched her brother Bejamin shoot and kill their father in August 2009, when Emily was just six years old, and Benjamin was 10. Since the incident, the question of whether or not Emily was mentally competent to testify has been debated.
"Our goal is to help make her healthy again not to have her testify," Benjamin's attorney said. "Emily, when she knows she has to come to court, her symptoms blow up. She starts to disassociate, she starts to have trauma."
Prosecutors, on the other hand, say that her testimony is critical for their case, and plan to appeal the ruling.
Judge Tommy Jewell ruled that Emily's state of mind is too fragile and she lacks the ability to tell reality from fantasy. Still, he believes she can recover and will permit the prosecution to resubmit their request to have her testify at a later date.
No trial date has been set yet.
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