NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A 13-year-old boy showed no emotion and said little on Monday as a juvenile court judge read the attempted murder and other charges he faces for a shooting inside a suburban Indianapolis middle school classroom.
The boy wore an orange and white jail uniform as he sat between his parents during a hearing that lasted about 15 minutes. He answered “Yes, your honor” and “No, your honor” to questions from the judge.
The 11 charges against him include two counts of attempted murder for the wounding of a seventh-grade classmate and the science teacher authorities say saved lives by tackling the shooter to end the May 25 attack at Noblesville West Middle School. The Associated Press has not identified the boy because he is charged as a juvenile.
Defense attorney Ben Jaffe told the judge that the boy wouldn’t be talking about the allegations during Monday’s hearing. Hamilton County Magistrate Todd Ruetz entered a denial of the charges, the equivalent of a not-guilty plea.
The boy’s parents gave similar short answers to the judge during the hearing and avoided reporters as they left the courthouse. Science teacher Jason Seaman, who also was shot, attended the hearing but also left without speaking with reporters.
A friend of 13-year-old Ella Whistler, who was badly wounded in the shooting, said she wishes the accused shooter could face criminal charges in adult court.
“He made an adult decision,” 12-year-old Kylie Cook said after Monday’s hearing. “You don’t make a threat to bring a gun to school. You don’t think it’s OK to shoot someone and act like you’re going to kill them.”
Under state law, the boy can’t face adult charges because of his age. Prosecutors say children of 13 can only be waived to adult court if they are facing murder charges.
Whistler’s family said last week that she remained hospitalized and faces a lengthy recovery after being shot seven times, including in her face, neck and upper chest. She suffered collapsed lungs, significant nerve damage and several broken bones.
Cook wasn’t near the classroom where the shooting happened, but said she worried the accused shooter would say he didn’t mean to shoot anyone. She said the boy’s courtroom behavior was different from what she knows of him as an acquaintance.
“He’s never that formal,” she said. “He’s always more of a joking-around kid, never actually like means what he’s saying, and always just runs around and acts crazy with his friends. Seeing him that formal, and saying ‘Yes, sir. No, sir. Yes, your honor,’ it was just weird.”
The boy, who prosecutors say was armed with two handguns and a knife, is next scheduled to appear in court on June 25. But his attorney said he’s not yet seen evidence from prosecutors and might ask for a delay.
“A case like this, complex, with as much going on, it is unrealistic to be at a trial stage, or at a stage of disposition, within three weeks or so,” Jaffe told WTHR-TV after the hearing.
If the boy is found guilty in the Noblesville shooting case, he could be ordered held at a state detention center for juveniles until he’s 21, although typically juveniles are released when they turn 18, said Larry Landis, executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council. The boy could also be ordered to spend time in a mental health treatment center.
By TOM DAVIES
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