NEWS- Evidentiary: A local Klebold-- or not?
The Albemarle Circuit Court has released a trove of records in the alleged conspiracy-to-blow-up-high-schools cases. The documents include emails, instant messages, and MySpace pages of a boy prosecutors have called the "ringleader" of the "conspiracy," even though he didn't know one of the members of his alleged ring.
The boy, a former Western Albemarle High student now 17 years old, was headed to trial in January, but in exchange for pleading guilty August 31 to the original charges of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to blow up a schoolhouse, the court agreed to defer disposition while the youth gets mental health treatment. The agreement also calls for the court to reduce his crime to "communicating a threat."
This action means that at least two but possibly three of the four charged teens may have agreed to pleas, so the criminal charges may all be resolved. Precise details are sketchy, however, since the lid of secrecy has recently clamped down so hard that one teen's dad has been charged with contempt of court [see related story] for writing a letter to the Albemarle School Board.
All four were convicted in juvenile court in March. No bombs or specific plans were ever found, but the youths involved did make various statements during police interrogations– without their parents or legal counsel– that were used against them in court. One teen's family decided to fight and won an acquittal from a jury in Circuit Court in mid-August. After that victory, the parents of the 13-year-old are thinking about lodging a civil lawsuit.
What exactly is in the "ringleader's" file? Lots of talk idolizing kings of mayhem, particularly Columbine killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, whom the boy calls "heroes" on his MySpace profile. Yet for an alleged conspiracy case, there's precious little written evidence of conspiracy, i.e., collusion between two or more individuals to commit some sort of crime.
In the longest of the teen's writings, he admits to a "fixation with iconic mass-murderers," yet he specifically distances himself from them– even if his reason includes whining that "arbitrary laws" prevent him from killing people.
"I'm a misanthrope," he declares. "We would be better off if we lived like the native americans and africans did in ancient and middle-aged times."
And he perversely calls his birthday, April 20, 1999– the date of the Columbine school massacre– the "best present" ever given to him. But he specifically says he wouldn't do such a thing. "There's no point in doing anything like that," he writes. "All it does is reharshen zero-tolerance regulation and elicit oppression [of] free speech."
His logic improves a paragraph later when he insists that killing should occur only when it's justified, "i.e., I kill someone because they raped my daughter. That would be something I consider proper."
The lad seems fond of quizzes, and he posted links to an internet Serial Killer Quiz which asks, "Which school shooter are you?" "Which gun is perfect for you?" and "Are you psychotic?"
The boy's instant messaging screen name "Loki420diefor" seems to fit with the themes of his writing. In the 1999 film Dogma, Loki is the name of a fallen angel, played by Matt Damon, who commits what he sees as justified killings. Loki is also the name of a mythological Norse giant who makes mischief, murder, and fire
In instant messages from January 30 with a young adult named Matt Smith– who alerted the boy's family to his writings– the teen hints that the FBI will be investigating Smith in three months. When Smith asks if he still plans "to shoot up the school," the boy refers cryptically to the "seventh anniversary," presumably of Columbine and the date of the teen's 17th birthday.
In the lengthy MySpace message, the boy rails against "trendy youth-Christians," declares God a "psychologically comforting archetype," and also blasts W.A.S.P.s, gluttons and corporate raiders. He says he likes smoking marijuana and listening to Goth bands– including Charlottesville's own Bella Morte.
The material paints a picture of a disturbed, possibly suicidal youth who calls himself "incontrovertibly crazy." What it seems thin on is proof of an actual conspiracy beyond the fantasies of the teen, whom one defense lawyer has called a "Columbine wannabe."
The teen, who has been in detention for seven months, offered an Alford plea to the conspiracy charges on August 31. He will remain under a doctor's care, get treatment in a residential facility in Tennessee, and be on probation at least until he's 18. And he's forbidden from having a MySpace account or any other personal website.
If he complies with the terms of the deferred disposition, the charges will be reduced to making electronic threats, and the defendant may request they be dropped– although the prosecution notes it does not agree with dropping the charges at this time.
County prosecutors believe this might have happened here.SURVEILLANCE PHOTO