A 17-year-old Junior at a Minnesota high school has been charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder and six counts of possessing explosives or incendiary devices in the Waseca County District Court located 73 miles from Minneapolis. According to police, the boy had amassed a stockpile of handguns, automatic weapons, and materials necessary to make bombs. He allegedly had been planning to kill his parents and sister with a.22 caliber because it made less noise and then “kill as many students as he could” at his local high school in Waseca, Minnesota. John David LaDue (17) was charged with the crimes today. Police say he stockpiled the weapons in his bedroom and a storage unit where he was arrested when a suspicious citizen called police when he saw the boy enter the unit and close the door; it was there where the police located some of the explosive materials. LaDue had apparently kept a notebook which detailed his plans which he intended to execute in a manner similar to the killings at the Columbine school in Littleton, Colorado where 13 people were murdered; police believe he originally intended to carry out his actions on the anniversary date of Columbine but changed his mind because the date fell on Easter but was planning on taking action soon. Police say he planned to start a fire in a rural area to create a diversion for his intended actions. Once in custody, officials say he threatened to strangle a mental health person with a telephone cord- he was then transferred to another facility in neighboring Red Wing, Minnesota.
COMMENT: Minnesota has Sentencing Guidelines the purpose of which is to establish rational and consistent sentencing standards across the state. There are maximum penalties listed in the statutes for the various crimes, but they are seldom used- instead, the guidelines are generally applied. The Guideline sentence for attempted murder in the first degree in Minnesota is 180 months- possibly for each count charged. Departures from this practice are permitted when “compelling circumstances” permit. Pursuant to Minnesota law, defendants receive 1/3rd off of their sentence while in custody absent any discipline issues. The elements the prosecutor would need to prove are the “attempted” taking of another life with premeditation and intent. If this case goes to trial, the prosecutor would likely point out the level of planning involved to show premeditation similar to the recent Byron Smith murder case in Minnesota where the prosecutor argued that the defendant was waiting for potential victims to burglarize his home. The possession charges simply require that the defendant was in control of the prohibited items. As in any case, mental health issues can significantly impact criminal proceedings. LaDue is presumed innocent.