Monday, July 28, 2014
WASECA, Minn. (AP) — A judge on Monday dismissed the most serious charges against a 17-year-old boy accused of plotting to kill his family and attack his southern Minnesota school.
Waseca County Judge Gerald Wolf dismissed four counts of attempted murder and two counts of attempted damage to property.
Wolf said in his ruling that prosecutors didn't show sufficient evidence that the boy had made "a substantial step, beyond mere preparation," to commit murder or property damage.
The judge allowed six counts of possession of explosives to stand.
Defense attorney Dawn Johnson told The Associated Press that her team is pleased the judge made "the legally correct decision in a controversial case."
Messages left for prosecutor Brenda Miller at her office after hours and at her home were not immediately returned Monday evening.
The teen was arrested in April after authorities said they found him with bomb-making materials in a storage locker in Waseca, 70 miles south of Minneapolis. Court documents say they also found guns, explosives and a 180-page journal that outlined a plan to kill his family, set a fire to divert first responders, then go to Waseca Junior and Senior High School and "kill as many students as he could."
However, the judge noted that the boy abandoned his initial plan to carry out the plot on April 20 and said there was no indication he had picked a new date, according to the Faribault Daily News. Wolf also said no bomb-making materials had been moved to the school.
"It would be pure speculation for this Court to assume that Juvenile would have followed through with the thoughts contained in his journal," Wolf wrote.
Prosecutors want to certify the teen to stand trial as an adult. A hearing on whether to move the boy's case into adult court is scheduled for Wednesday. The teen remains in a state juvenile facility in Red Wing.
According to recordings of the teen's police interrogation, the boy mocked the attacks on the Boston Marathon and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut as "pretty lame" and "pathetic" and said he idolized one of the Columbine gunmen.
The teen said he had been planning the attack for more than a year and jotted it down in a notebook that he kept locked in his room.
However, his father told reporters that he does not believe his son would have carried out the plan and that there were no signs the teen was troubled.
The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes.