MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Just two days after a judge dismissed the attempted murder charges against the Waseca teen accused of plotting to bomb his school, 17-year-old John LaDue made a court appearance Wednesday morning.
Transported from a juvenile detention facility in Red Wing, LaDue was back in a Waseca courtroom to learn if he would be tried as an adult.
The teen is charged with plotting a Columbine-like massacre last spring on the local schools.
Steve Bergeson, LaDue’s attorney with the state public defender’s office, was upset by the late notice of the prosecution’s oral motion.
“It wasn’t necessarily unexpected but it was kind of a waste of time and resources,” Bergeson said.
The Waseca County Attorney will ask the Minnesota Court of Appeals to overturn Judge Gerald Wolf’s order issued July 28, which dropped six of the most serious charges against LaDue — including four counts of attempted murder.
LaDue had written in his journal that it was his intention to first kill his parents and older sister before going to school and killing a police liaison officer.
After that, he would unleash a number of bombs and gunfire to kill students and staff.
But citing a lack of probable cause, Judge Wolf wrote in his order, “After abandoning his initial plan there has been nothing showing that he had rescheduled his plans for any specific day or time.”
LaDue’s parents were silent as they left the courtroom on Wednesday. Earlier in the week, LaDue’s father David argued with a neighbor about his son’s intentions. LaDue says his son needs help, not prison.
“We never heard of John ever threatening anybody or, in God’s name, I would have certainly put everything I had under lock and key,” LaDue said.
The Court of Appeals will now have to decide if the attempted murder charges should be reinstated.
By the time the court rules in the case, LaDue will have turned 18 years old. However, under state law he would still be tried for his crimes that were allegedly committed while he was a juvenile.
That’s why the prosecution is seeking to move LaDue into adult court.
“Everything that is needed for safety and for John can be accomplished in the juvenile court,” Bergeson said. “That’s what we’ve always contended.”
Two acquaintances of LaDue’s preceded him in the courtroom to face other charges related to LaDue’s earlier experimentation with setting off explosive devices.
Austin Walters and Colby Radke, both of whom will also turn 18 next month, are accused of possessing explosives with their friend LaDue next to the Harley Elementary School playground. Both boys entered pleas of not guilty.
The Waseca County Attorney has 20 days to file the request with the court of appeals to hear her motion. It could take up to three months for a ruling to be made, and LaDue’s pre-trial court proceedings to resume.