Thursday, February 28, 2008

Memorial Middle School shooter's case argued before Missouri Supreme Court

The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments today on whether Memorial Middle School shooter Thomas Gregory White's case should be returned to juvenile court. White has been in jail awaiting trial since October 2006 when he took an assault rifle into the school, fired into the ceiling, then pointed the gun at Principal Steve Gilbreth and allegedly tried to fire several times but the gun jammed. White is charged with two counts of assault and single counts of armed criminal action, unlawful use of a weapon, and attempted escape:

Judge Stephen Limbaugh made it clear early in a hearing Thursday of the Missouri Supreme Court that public defender James Egan had his work cut out for him in arguing that Thomas White should not have been certified to stand trial as an adult on charges in connection with an assault-rifle incident at Memorial Middle School in Joplin.

Limbaugh said it was his understanding that the state’s high court agreed to hear the Joplin boy’s case to determine whether the circuit court in Jasper County erred in ordering him to stand trial as an adult on felony offenses allegedly committed with a weapon he took to school at the age of 13.

“Frankly, given the seriousness of the charge, I have a hard time understanding any circuit judge anywhere not certifying this (young) fellow,” Limbaugh said.

But several of the judges, including Limbaugh, showed an interest in Egan’s argument that White, now 15, received ineffective assistance of counsel at his adult-certification hearing in December 2006.

The boy’s case in adult court in Jasper County is on hold pending a ruling by the Missouri Supreme Court on the defense’s writ of prohibition. That decision could take several weeks.

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