Following closing arguments, judge in Pine View bombing case offers no indication of when he will rule

5th District Juvenile Court Judge Paul E. Dame looks at his notes during the final argument hearing for a teen accused of attempting to detonate a bomb inside Pine View High School, St. George, Utah, Monday, July 16, 2018 | Photo by Ben Pollchik via Utah court pool, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — After nearly an hour and a half of final arguments Monday morning, 5th District Juvenile Court Judge Paul E. Dame did not give a time frame for when he would rule on whether the 16-year-old defendant in the Pine Valley High School bombing attempt last March would stand trial as an adult or juvenile.

This March 2018 file photo shows Pine View High School students evacuated on the football field as police investigated a bomb scare inside the school and swept the parking lot as a precaution, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The 16-year-old from Hurricane is charged with felonies for attempted murder and possessing a weapon of mass destruction after bringing an explosive in a backpack to Pine View High School on March 5. The bomb never detonated and no one was injured, but it caused a full evacuation of the school.

The boy also faces a misdemeanor charge for allegedly spray-painting “ISIS is comi” and raising an Islamic State flag at Hurricane High School Feb. 15.

Defense attorney Matthew Harris contended Monday that the defendant has autism and his actions may have been reckless but they were a result of his condition.

Harris contended the defendant had been bullied in school and views the world differently because of his autism. However, he said, the teen had never been diagnosed with autism until after the alleged incidents.

Read more: Pine View High School bomb suspect was ‘relentlessly’ bullied, parents say

Harris argued the defendant’s condition was at fault and he had never been diagnosed or treated for his autism prior to the incidents.

“He likes to follow the rules. He gets upset when others don’t follow the rules, especially when they’re not held accountable,” Harris said. “He views the world differently than you and I through is autistic mind. He lacks the tools to simply solve his problems.”

Harris said the teen is “not crazy or mad.”

Deputy Washington County Attorney Angela Adams focused her final argument on the defendant’s risk to the public because of his actions.

“His actions were violent and premeditated,” she said. “We cannot blame all these allegations on his autism. … According to the evidence, the public was at risk. He stated he wanted to cause fear and panic in the public. He admitted that. He said Hurricane had never been kind to him. The stupid kids there never treated him right. It was good to cause them some fear.”

Read more: FBI psychiatrist casts doubt on autism diagnosis of teen in Pine View bomb case

Adams also said the defendant originally planned to put the bomb device at Hurricane High School.

“He stated in his interview – he admitted – he would have waited, watched what was going on. He planned more fear and terror,” she said. “There’s no evidence he wouldn’t do it again, he stated his desire to do it again. He showed no remorse. The victims were members of the public.”

Both sides argued whether the defendant would receive better treatment in juvenile or adult court.

“While the state may deem his action as extreme or hard to understand,” Harris said, “if you look at his actions as a minor, it is best to not have him bound over to district court as an adult.

Harris said “the juvenile system is centered on treatment, not retribution.”

He also said the defendant would be a target if in an adult system.

Adams countered, noting the state has one of the better treatment programs in the country for treating juveniles in its system.

Judge Dame said he would let the court know when he would make his ruling but added, “My calendar is full this week.”

Because the suspect is a juvenile, St. George News has chosen not to name the teen or his parents to protect his identity.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • JPD July 16, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Adult decisions deserve adult consequences…

  • Carpe Diem July 16, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    Who is terrorized now? Not sympathetic.

  • Mike P July 17, 2018 at 10:21 am

    The defendant has autism and his actions may have been reckless but they were a result of his condition. His “condition”. Here we go…………..

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