A 15-year-old boy charged with fatally shooting a classmate and wounding three others at his rural Washington state high school in Eastern Washington has made his first appearance in court Wednesday morning.
A judge on Wednesday in juvenile court set a date to determine if Caleb Sharpe, 15, will be tried as an adult in the Sept. 13 shooting at Freeman High School near the tiny town of Rockford.
The hearing is scheduled to start April 2, 2018, and is expected to last a week.
Since the suspect is a juvenile, there has to be a declination hearing to decide if he will be charged as an adult. He will turn 16-years-old in October while in juvenile detention.
Given the complexities of Sharpe’s case, attorneys on both sides agreed they needed more time to prepare for the hearing. Normally, a declination hearing has to be held within 14 days of the charges being filed.
"I think that obviously, this is a significant matter and determinations to whether he gets tried as an adult or a juvenile, is very significant. So, it's not a matter you can rush people to have a hearing in 14 days. You can't prepare and provide the evidence the court needs to have to make that very serious determination," said the suspect's attorney Bevan Maxey.
Prosecutors are also filing 51 additional charges of second-degree assault against the suspect for other students put in danger the day of the shooting.
The suspected shooter's charge for Strahan's death has been upgraded from first-degree murder to first-degree premeditated murder. He is also charged with attempted first-degree murder for the three girls injured in the shooting. The amended charges filed give the option for the jury to find him guilty of first-degree assault as an alternative to first degree attempted murder for injuring the three girls.