SPOKANE, Wash. — A hearing to determine whether a 15-year-old boy will be tried as an adult on charges he fatally shot a classmate and wounded three others at his rural Washington state high school will not occur until next spring, a judge said Wednesday.
At a hearing in juvenile court, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michael Price set an April 2, 2018, date for a week-long hearing to determine if Caleb Sharpe will be tried as an adult.
Sharpe is charged with shooting four people on Oct. 13 at Freeman High School near the tiny town of Rockford.
Sharpe has previously pleaded not guilty to one charge of first-degree murder and three charges of attempted first-degree murder.
Price said the case was too complex to have a so-called declination hearing within 14 days as required by law.
“We have good cause to extend it beyond 14 days,” Price said.
Defense attorney Bevan Maxey agreed with the long delay, even though his client will remain in custody all that time.
“I have all kinds of concern for him being in jail,” Maxey said. “This is a process that is going to take place. Everybody needs to be properly prepared.”
“We would prefer he be handled as a juvenile,” Maxey said. “That’s what he is; 15 years old.”
Family members of Sharpe and the victims filled the small courtroom. They did not speak with reporters after.
Sharpe made no comments in the courtroom.
The school with about 300 students is located near the Washington state border with Idaho.
Authorities said Sharpe on Oct. 13 brought a handgun and an assault rifle to school in a duffel bag he carried onto his high school bus.
The assault rifle jammed when he tried to load it inside the school and he pulled out a pistol and shot a 15-year-old classmate in the abdomen and face, killing him, court documents said.
The teen then walked down a hallway, firing at or into the ceiling and wounding three female students, authorities have said. Sharpe told police that he had been bullied by the boy who died but did not target him specifically.
Sharpe had been suspended for bringing threatening notes to school and that the shooting happened on the first day he had returned.
Documents and his classmates said Sharpe brought notes to school about doing “something stupid,” was obsessed with past school shootings and posted videos online that showed him playing with guns.
Sharpe also had been meeting with a school counselor because of suicidal thoughts and left a suicide note at home for his parents before the shooting, an investigator for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office wrote in an affidavit.
Sharpe has been in custody since the shootings.
A few days after the shootings his family issued a statement expressing condolences and asking for prayers for the victims and their relatives.
“They really do care about everybody else,” Maxey said Wednesday.
The Associated Press doesn’t typically name juvenile suspects but is doing so because of the severity of the accusations and because Sharpe’s name was released in public documents.