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High court to hear case of teen who planned ‘Columbine-style’ attack

January 9, 2018

The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether a teenager who made violent threats against his school can be adjudicated as a delinquent for both attempted and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery after it hears oral arguments in the Jackson County case this week.

The high court has granted transfer to B.T.E. v. State of Indiana, 36S05-1711-JV-00711, and will hear oral arguments in the Seymour juvenile delinquency case on Thursday. In the fall of 2015, Seymour High School students B.T.E. and M.V. began planning an attack on their school on April 20, 2018, the anniversary of the Columbine shootings.

The students discussed their strategy – which included making pipe bombs and a diagram of the school targeting a specific student’s assigned seat – on Facebook, and also shared their plans with classmates. One of those classmates reported the threats to the school, which lead to a Seymour Police Department investigation.

After police interviewed the students and examined their Facebook accounts, M.V. was adjudicated as a delinquent for conspiracy to commit aggravated battery, while B.T.E. was adjudicated for conspiracy to commit and attempted aggravated battery. But a divided panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned B.T.E.’s adjudication on the attempt charge, finding his actions constituted only preparation for the attack, not a “substantial step” toward carrying it out.

Judge Cale Bradford, however, dissented on that issue, finding the maps of the school and planned Columbine-style attack on the school were “overt acts” constituting the necessary substantial step needed to prove an attempted aggravated battery adjudication.

The justices will consider B.T.E.’s adjudications at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

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