BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) -- A Whatcom County judge says that a 12-year-old boy from Custer, Wash., is competent to face animal cruelty charges stemming from the killings of a cow and a sheep last year.

The Bellingham Herald Reports that Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder says knowing that killing animals is wrong is "within the sphere of maturity" of the boy, who was 11 at the time of the killings.

Under Washington law, prosecutors must prove children can understand crimes have been committed.

A cow was found dead in August of 2009 with one missing leg. Authorities say the cow had been killed with an ax. The Whatcom County sheriff's office says the boy admitted to also killing a sheep by slashing its throat.

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Information from: The Bellingham Herald, http://www.bellinghamherald.com

Copyright 2010 The AP.

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