2017-03-19 / News

Hearing for Zemmer teens put off to April 17

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER — There’s still no decision on whether three Zemmer Middle School teens will face charges as adults or juveniles for their parts in an alleged plot to stage a Columbinestyle massacre at the school.

The teens — a 15-year-old from Mayfield Township, a 14-year-old from Deerfield Township and a 15-year old from Metamora Township appeared in front of Family Court Judge Justus Scott in a succession of nearly identical hearings Wednesday afternoon.

The male teenagers have been held at Genesee Valley Regional Center since they were arrested late last month by Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept. deputies and they’ll remain there until another hearing is held April 17.

Along with lesser charges the three have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit terrorism causing death, both life felonies if they’re convicted as adults.

Conspiracy to commit murder is one of 16 specified criminal charges that allows prosecutors to try a 14 to 16-year old as an adult without having a hearing in front of a family court judge.

Normally prosecutors have 14 days after a juvenile is arrested to make that decision, but all three defense attorneys — Bernard Jocuns, Colleen Steele and Matthew Northwood — agreed to waive that time limit for a second time.

Attorneys for the three all asked for competency and criminal responsibility exams to be held for their clients along with previously scheduled psychiatric exams ordered by Scott.

Scott ordered that the results of the criminal responsibility exams will be shared only with the individual defense attorneys, but the results of the competency exams will be shared with defense and prosecution alike.

At a Feb. 28 hearing, Scott called for expedited psychological exams for the three teens but at Wednesday’s hearing attorneys said the earliest an exam could be held was March 20.

The alleged plot was uncovered March 20 when the parents of an Ohio girl, who used to go to school in Lapeer, contacted the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept. after the Deerfield Township boy texted her about the trio’s plans.

None of the boys have been inside a Lapeer school since.

Investigators say they have a 14-minute video from one of the teen’s phones that shows the boys discussing plans to kill as many students and staff as possible at the Oregon Road school in Mayfield Township and one of the boys talking about the desire to kill a family member.

Jocuns filed a motion March 7 to suppress that video claiming it was improperly obtained.

Starr filed a motion March 8 calling for charges against her client to be dropped saying that the petition against her client contains no allegations.

Both of those motions were put on hold until the April 17 hearing.

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