Would-be school shooter John LaDue will have hard time pleading insanity, Rosenbaum says [PHOTOS]

Categories: Crime, Law
johnadue2.jpg
Facebook photo via the Daily Mail
The video this still is taken from was filmed by LaDue's longtime guitar teacher, who describes him as a normal kid.
John LaDue, the Waseca high school student who allegedly planned to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Columbine massacre with a homicidal rampage of his own, will have a hard time using an insanity defense if his case makes it to trial, Twin Cities lawyer, legal expert, and media personality Ron Rosenbaum says.

LaDue, 17, faces four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree damage to property, and six counts of possession of a bomb by a minor. Authorities say he didn't hesitate to tell them about his plot after he was arrested in a storage locker strewn with bomb-making materials on Tuesday evening. (Read all about the allegations in this Daily Mail story.)

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"Put yourself in the shoes of a defense attorney -- he's going to come in, take a look around, and he's got a kid who has already basically not only told the authorities what he did but almost bragged about it, and said what he was going to do in terms of threatening serious crimes against somebody at a juvenile facility," Rosenbaum tells us. "So this is not a situation where any defense attorney can defend this on the merits."

"But the problem with the insanity defense in Minnesota is it's virtually impossible to win. You have to prove that either the person doesn't know the difference between right and wrong or he doesn't know the nature of his act, [but] he already indicated he knew he wanted to kill people and use a diversion," Rosenbaum continues. "It doesn't seem to lend itself to a defense which is almost impossible under the best circumstances."

Though LaDue is a minor, Rosembaum says, "It's safe to say in this case there's no chance he won't be tried as an adult."

"It's because he's 17 and he's facing charges that are serious and could result in prison," Rosenbaum continued.

But how long might LaDue be locked up, assuming he's convicted?

johnladue1.jpg
Facebook photo via the Daily Mail
LaDue was arrested with seven guns and six bombs in his possesion.

"I don't know about the rest of his life, but he will serve many decades of prison time," Rosembaum replies. "Unless there were procedural problems with the confession, it's reasonable to assume he'll do a long time in prison. I can't imagine there being a defense here."

As for how LaDue can be charged with attempted murder when his murderous plot hadn't yet been put into action (aside from some explosives LaDue allegedly placed around the Hartley School playground in Waseca in late March), Rosenbaum says it has to do with how the statute defines making "a substantial step toward... commission of a crime."

"All the things he's done, including exploding devices in a school playground, gathering explosives in this facility and talking about it... it doesn't have to be like taking a shot at somebody and missing," Rosenbaum says.

All in all, it's not an enviable situation for LaDue's defense counsel, especially when contrasted with cases like the Byron Smith one.

(For more, click to page two.)


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20 comments
RichardRider
RichardRider

One other consideration. Doubtless the school guard is armed with a quality 9 MM with extra clips. While this particular maniac was well armed, any nut job with a revolver or even a derringer could approach, shoot and kill the single armed, uniformed guard (NO WAY that can be prevented, as the guard will not really be on alert — especially against a student), and then the perp likely arms himself with the guard’s Glock with three 17-round loaded magazines.

A bad situation suddenly turns MUCH worse — the only person with a gun in this “gun free” zone is the well armed killer — BETTER armed, thanks to expensive, downright STOOOPID policy.

A far superior approach is to have some of the staff packing heat — concealed heat. And the perp — even a student — should not know who’s packing and who isn’t. Suddenly this “gun free” zone is not such an attractive target.

Indeed, teachers and staff at all Utah public schools have had this option for over a dozen years. It’s a nonissue. There have been no incidents — accidents or otherwise.

TruDat
TruDat

So, can a 17 year old rent a storage locker? And where the hell were his parents, he had guns under his bed. I couldn't even have dust-bunnies under my bed when I was a kid! 

k2yeb
k2yeb topcommenter

He clearly is not insane. You don't have to be insane to be a monster. Some of the worst people in the world knew exactly what they were doing. Is that insane, I don't know but not according to the law.

Kenny Thiem
Kenny Thiem

You can't be insane if you're sitting here planning it, blab everything to the cops once you get arrested and are leaving explosives in playgrounds. Something is wrong with this kid but he isn't insane. Hasn't anyone heard about someone being cold and calculating.

Adam Epps
Adam Epps

What a terrifying person. Geez. So glad they caught him before he could do any real damage. Though obviously everyone and anyone who knows him or went to that school probably is a bit damaged at this point knowing what kind of person they were around. Hope they can continue on and be happy he was caught.

TheConservativeJerk
TheConservativeJerk topcommenter

"possession of a bomb by a minor"  That's a real thing?

What sort of ass hat thought a bomb possessed by a minor is different or better than one possessed by an adult?   I don't think there should be a difference. 

Hmmm, I wonder where he got all the guns.  Doesn't look as if any stupid "universal background checks" would have helped this situation for multiple reasons.  The main reason, he was not old enough to buy any of the guns.  

Steven Harty
Steven Harty

Anyone that wants to do shit like that is nuts anyway. Just execute please. If only we had the death penalty in Minnesota. Set an example of scum like this.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

The charges against this kid are, "four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree damage to property, and six counts of possession of a bomb by a minor."

Did he really attempt to murder anybody?  He said he meant to, but is that the same thing?  

And really, the first time we allowed a juvenile to be tried as an adult, we made it clear that we consider both our juvenile and adult court systems to be non-functional, and that the notion of legal age is completely arbitrary.

Clearly, there's something very wrong with this kid. What's the scoop on his parents?  Is there anyone around who thought this kid wasn't quite right, before it came to this?  I'm not sure the cure for what ails this kid is to be locked in an adult prison for decades.  Especially not a US adult prison, where gang violence and forcible rape are nearly official parts of the rehabilitation process, as opposed to psychiatric treatment and instilling a sense of usefulness.

Katie Bastyr
Katie Bastyr

It was planned! He can't claim insanity for that reason alone.

Julie Machnik
Julie Machnik

Won't surprise me if it later comes out that this kid was taking prescription SSRIs.

Rachael Joseph
Rachael Joseph

Premeditation. Lock him up for the rest of his life.

Jeff E Powers
Jeff E Powers

Too much detailed planning to claim insanity.

bigd1033
bigd1033

Hey, Mr. Rosenbaum, you ever think that LaDue's attorney is a female?

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@RichardRider  It would be great if someone would just shoot you. 

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@swmnguy  Yeah - unless he was black - then you'd be screaming "death penalty."

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

@MNjoe  You must have me confused with somebody else.  I've never supported the death penalty.  I agree that if this kid were black, some people would be screaming for the death penalty.  Heck, he's white and some people are.  But since you asked, I have three concerns in this case.  

One is that I suspect this kid might have been on SSRI's or other psychotropic medications.  These drugs are great for many people and allow them to live functional lives.  But when they don't work right, they work very very badly.  Unfortunately such drugs are used as a replacement for medical supervision, not in conjunction with medical supervision.  I knew someone who was on SSRI's and was having all kinds of terrifying thoughts and images, and couldn't get an appointment with the psychiatrist who prescribed the meds.  All he'd get was an over-the-phone adjustment of dosage.  The guy ended up killing himself.  But almost all these mass shooters turn out to have been on SSRI's, and it's very carefully kept out of court and out of the media.

Another concern is the larger topic of prosecutor conduct.  Most criminal charges are resolved with plea bargains. In many cases, the suspect is just so guilty there's nothing to do but bargain.  But in too many cases, the prosecutor stacks on so many charges for a single act, a defendant has to rely on overwhelmed public defenders, and ends up taking a plea on a crime he either didn't commit or should have been a lesser charge, because the odds were that he would be convicted of all the charges.  Prosecutors use this tactic to stack the deck and win convictions with even the flimsiest of evidence.  Police know this and there are times when cases do go to trial, and it turns out there really is no evidence, because police assumed the case would be plead out and didn't bother to complete the investigation.  Prosecutors also involve the media in the prosecution, as the Twin Cities media has been very involved in this case. I'd like to see a defense attorney go after Mike Freeman for his constant grandstanding to taint the jury pool in cases with the flimsiest evidence.

My third concern is our legal definition of insanity.  Our definition hasn't changed since we thought mental illness was caused by the moon.  There are too many cases where somebody does something horrible, but by the time they get to trial, they've gotten some medical care, gotten detoxed from drugs legal or illegal, and they're fine by the time they get to court.  The fact that the treatment they needed the whole time was finally given to them in jail is then used against them at trial.  If you thought aliens and demons had taken over your family's bodies and were going to kill you, so you killed your family but very carefully so the aliens wouldn't figure it out, I would say you were insane.  But you wouldn't be considered legally insane.  Apparently it's perfectly sane to think aliens have taken over your family's bodies and plotting to kill you?  When a trace amount of a nutritional supplement would fix the problem in your brain, I think it's a better use of society's resources to get that nutrient into your brain, rather than have an "auto da fe" in the modern public square and exalt the Inquisitor--I mean, Prosecutor.

Thanks for asking.

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