WASECA, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — A 17-year-old boy in Waseca has pleaded not guilty to charges that he plotted to kill his family and then stage an attack on his school.
John David LaDue was escorted into a Waseca County courtroom under heavy guard Monday, wearing ankle shackles and dressed in an orange prisoner jumpsuit.
State prosecutors are seeking to try LaDue as an adult on attempted first-degree murder charges.
Judge Gerald Wolf asked LaDue if he would agree to extending his due process rights. He answered that he understood that forgoing his 14-day guarantee would mean his probable cause hearing won’t be held until June 18.
When he spoke to the judge, LaDue’s responses were calm and determined, showing no signs of nervousness.
For the first time since his arrest for an alleged Columbine-like murder plot, LaDue was back in his hometown.
An acquaintance, who asked not to be identified said, “I just knew him as a good Christian John – straight laced, he loved to hunt.”
LaDue is just seven months shy of his 18th birthday, and state prosecutors filed a motion to certify LaDue for trial as an adult.
His public defenders say that would be wrong, since he comes to court with no prior criminal history.
“We believe that juvenile court can handle this and is the most appropriate venue for these charges,” said public defender Dawn Johnson.
LaDue was arrested nearly two weeks ago, after being spotted acting suspiciously outside a Waseca self-storage facility. That’s when police foiled an apparent plot in which the teen planned to kill his family, then deliver bombs and gunfire to the local school.
According to the criminal complaint, LaDue told police he planned to “shoot and kill as many students as he could.”
Wolf, the judge, granted a 60-day extension for the psychological exams, which are needed before the boy can face trial as an adult.
“He was the most straight laced guy I knew, and it’s shocking to me to know he was capable of writing down all these thoughts,” the acquaintance of LaDue said.
The judge also denied the state’s motion to move LaDue to Lino Lakes, which would be more convenient for the state’s psychologist.
However, Wolf did grant a defense request to allow LaDue to wear street clothes for any upcoming court appearances.
The state psychologist needs four or five meetings with Ladue needs to examine his past medical and school records.
His probable cause hearing is on June 18. At that time a certification hearing date will also be set, but it’s not expected to happen before mid to late summer.