Ohio school shooting case may go to adult court

THOMAS J. SHEERAN Associated Press Published:

CHARDON, Ohio (AP) -- A 17-year-old boy charged in a school shooting rampage that left three students dead was told by a judge on Tuesday that the case could be sent to adult court for trial.

Authorities will decide later whether T.J. Lane will be tried as an adult and face a possible life sentence if convicted.

Lane, who is charged with three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of felonious assault, did not enter a plea Tuesday when he appeared before Juvenile Judge Tim Grendell.

The judge postponed a hearing on the adult-court matter from March 19 until April 3 because two new attorneys have joined the defense team.

Lane watched the judge without visible emotion, blinking occasionally. He was taken into court under heavy security, a deputy's hand on his arm. He was dressed in an outfit similar to what he wore last week in court -- a tan, open-collared dress shirt and dark slacks.

Relatives of the victims faced Lane from the jury box. Some wore memorial ribbons of red and black, the colors of Chardon High School.

Lane spoke in response to routine questions from the judge about his understanding of the case and his rights.

"Yes, sir, I understand," he said repeatedly, and, "Yes, I do, your honor."

Prosecutor David Joyce says Lane has admitted taking a .22-caliber pistol and a knife to the high school, near Cleveland, on Feb. 27 and firing 10 shots at a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table. Besides the three students killed, three were wounded, two seriously.

The motive for the shooting remains unclear, though Joyce has appeared to rule out theories involving bullying or drug-dealing. He has said that victims were selected at random and that Lane is someone "who's not well."

Joyce said he expects the case to be moved to adult court, where Lane could face life in prison if convicted. Minors are not eligible for the death penalty in Ohio, whether they are convicted as juveniles or adults.

Lane didn't attend Chardon High School. He attended an alternative school for students who haven't done well in traditional schools, and he had been at Chardon waiting for a bus.

The funerals for the three dead students began Saturday and continued Tuesday, with the final one scheduled for Thursday.

The judge, who earlier banned courtroom photos of Lane, allowed them on Tuesday and, after a hearing, said that decision would stand. The judge said he would rule later on whether to release the county social services agency records on Lane.