Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Judge: Ohio teen to be tried as adult in school shooting that killed 3 students, hurt others


T.J. Lane, 17, appears in Juvenile Court in Chardon, Ohio, on Thursday. He is charged in the Feb. 27 Chardon High School rampage that left three students dead and two students seriously wounded.

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CHARDON, Ohio — A 17-year-old boy will be tried as an adult in the Ohio school shooting deaths of three students, a juvenile court judge ruled Thursday.

Authorities say T.J. Lane admitted firing at students sitting at a cafeteria table at Chardon High School east of Cleveland on Feb. 27, killing three students and seriously wounding two.

Geauga County Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Grendell ruled that Lane should be tried as an adult.

The judge said he found probable evidence in all six charges for which Lane is charged, including aggravated murder charges. He rejected a defense request to release Lane on a $500,000 bond and said Lane would pose a risk to flee and a safety risk to the community.

At a hearing Thursday, a police officer testified that Lane admitted killing the victims but didn't know why he did it. Sheriff's Deputy Jon Bilicic said that Lane was wearing a T-shirt with the word "Killer" when he was arrested about one mile from the school.

One of the first officers at the scene, Chardon Patrolman Matt DeLisa, testified that he found the victims near a cafeteria table with lots of blood around.

Lane could face life in prison if he's convicted. Minors are not eligible for the death penalty in Ohio.

Had his case been routed to juvenile court, the maximum possible penalty would have kept him jailed until he turned 21.

Grendell previously found the teenager mentally competent to stand trial in juvenile court, where he was charged with three counts of aggravated murder and two counts of attempted aggravated murder. Grendell said the ruling on mental competency may not be used in other legal proceedings, meaning the issue may be revisited in adult court.

A psychiatrist had testified Lane suffers from hallucinations, psychosis and fantasies, but that none of the symptoms detailed in a mental evaluation would prevent him from understanding the case against him and helping in his defense. The psychiatrist said he saw no evidence that Lane was faking mental illness.

Lane attended an alternative school for students who haven't done well in traditional schools; he had been at Chardon waiting for a bus.

Joyce said Lane has admitted taking a .22-caliber pistol and a knife to the high school and firing 10 shots at a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table. The motive for the shooting remains unclear, though Joyce apparently has ruled out theories involving bullying or drug dealing.

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