15-year-old sentenced to juvenile prison

The 15-year-old Albemarle High School student convicted of plotting, with three other teens, to blow up two Albemarle high schools, was sentenced to juvenile detention March 5. The case has been closed to the public and little specific information has been released about the prosecution’s case against the teens. At the 15-year-old’s sentencing hearing, however, some of the evidence finally came to light.
Particularly revealing was the cross-examination of Dr. Eileen Ryan, a psychiatrist who testified on the teen’s behalf. Her testimony showed that the crux of the prosecution’s case were statements the boy made to police. Moreover, according to the boy’s father, the kid made these statements without a lawyer or his parents present. The father also said that none of the guns that were confiscated from the family’s house when the teen was originally taken into custody in February were presented as evidence in the trial.
Prosecutor Darby Lowe, reading from the interrogation transcript, quoted the teen as saying, “We were just going to go to school and kill everyone we knew except for our friends.”
Ryan, who had earlier described the teen as “altruistic, kind and generous,” yet also conflict-avoidant and passive, testified that this inflammatory statement was a response to a hypothetical question. She also said the teen never actually planned to take part in the plot, nor did he ever think the 16-year-old who apparently masterminded it would follow through. The older kid previously pleaded guilty to related charges.
According to Ryan, the 15-year old was caught up in a destructive relationship with his 16-year-old friend, who was bullied and did not fit in at school.
While the father admits that his son made mistakes that led to this ordeal, he says: “When you have a 15-year-old who has not been read his rights, and does not have a lawyer or his parents present, a professional interrogator can have a field day with the kid.”
The boy’s sentence will be determined on May 23, after Judge Susan Whitlock reviews a report from the Department of Social Services. He faces the prospect of being behind bars until age 21.—Nell Boeschenstein

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