COLVILLE, Wash.-- A Stevens County judge ruled that two 5th grade boys from Fort Colville Elementary School will go to trial. The judge made the decision on Friday evening and immedately arraigned a 10-year-old and 11-year-old who are accused of plotting to hurt their classmates.
Both children pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors charged the boys with conspiracy to commit first degree murder, tampering with a witness, and juvenile in possession of a firearm.
The judge said that both Fort Colville students met seven factors needed to try children of this age.
Washington state law says that children between the ages of 8 and 12 don’t have the capacity to commit crimes, but that presumption can be overcome by concise evidence.
Prosecutors needed to prove both boys knew what they were doing was wrong. That includes the nature of the crime; the child’s age and maturity; whether the suspects showed a desire for secrecy; whether they told a victim not to tell; any similar prior conduct; if that conduct brought any consequences; and whether the boys acknowledged their behavior was wrong.
Court documents said that the boys confessed to plotting to harm seven of their classmates, including one of the boy's girlfriends. Police said that the boys brought a knife, a gun, and ammunition to Fort Colville Elementary School to kill their classmates. The plan was foiled when another student saw a knife fall from one of the suspect’s backpacks while getting off the school bus. The boy told teachers who quickly took action.
A school counselor told the court one of the suspects became agitated when confronted about the plot, stomping his feet and swinging his arms.
The disciplinarian at the Fort Colville Elementary School testified that one suspect was not bothered by the fact that someone may have been killed the day the students allegedly brought the weapons to school.
A Colville police officer told the court he asked one of the suspects if he knew that killing his girlfriend would be wrong and against the law. He said the suspect replied, "Yes, I wanted her dead."
A psychologist later testified that one suspect admitted that the other student would rape then kill the girl while he stood guard. The psychologist said the suspect told him he knew that rape meant having sex with someone when they don’t want to. One suspect also allegedly told the psychologist murder was “the baddest crime that I know of.”
The defense called the grandmother of one of the suspects to the stand. She told the court her grandson liked to pretend that he was in the “Zelda” fantasy video game. She showed the courtroom “battle claws” made out of paper. Court documents say the suspects wrote about using those weapons in their alleged “plot to kill” letter.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for April 8th.