Family Court Administrative Judge Kevin Dougherty deferred disposition of the case until Oct. 5. The boy's punishment could range from probation to detention in a juvenile facility.
Dougherty said he would give the defense an opportunity to present testimony and evidence about the boy's personal history and characteristics.
According to court testimony, the child is being treated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, and is taking various medications. Public defender Dan Bartoli also told the court that the boy reads at a first-grade level, several years behind.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Carobus said Tran was sleeping in her small apartment at 3 p.m. when the boy, his 7-year-old brother - who was not arrested and couldn't be charged under state law because of his age - and an unknown male, 20, entered the premises and beat Tran.
Carobus said Tran was struck on the face and body with a stick, rope, rocks, a plunger and a potted plant. The assailants took $20 from her purse, a bracelet and tokens and left the apartment. A neighbor later found Tran on her knees in her back yard, crying and asking for help.
Dougherty asked the boy why he attacked Tran. The boy said he "didn't like the lady" and the way she "stared" at him.
The judge declared the boy was a "threat" to the community and said he would keep him in custody.
"We have a long road to travel," Dougherty said. "We're going to find out why you have hate in your heart for someone who doesn't look like you."
Contact Michael Hinkelman at email@example.com or 215-854-2656. Follow him on Twitter @MHinkelman.