29 February 2012

Alleged school shooter may be tried as an adult

By Brandon Keller, Juris Executive Editor
As his release is now deemed to be a danger both to himself and his community, the teenage student accused of killing three classmates and wounding two others at Chardon High School will remain in jail while he awaits the next stage of proceedings.

T.J. Lane will be formally charged on March 6, but Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Grendell is already marking his calendar in anticipation of hearing argument on a very important issue in this case: whether Lane will be tried as an adult.

The prosecution has not yet confirmed its intention to file a motion to transfer the case to adult court, but Judge Grandell has reserved March 19 for possible argument on that very issue.

It is possible that Lane’s attorney will have no say in the matter. According to the Ohio Bar Association, trial as an adult is mandatory in murder cases, or where “the charge is a certain serious felony offense, and the child is age 16 or 17 and . . . used a firearm while committing the offense.”[1]

If given a chance, however, Lane may be fighting to avoid a possible life sentence if the case ends in conviction. “Juveniles in Ohio who commit serious crimes might serve sentences as short as five years; if tried as an adult, T.J. would probably face a maximum sentence of life in prison.”[2]

According to the Ohio Department of Youth Services, Ohio transferred 303 juveniles, ages 14 to 20, to adult court in 2010. One hundred and fifty juveniles aged 17, the same age as Lane, represented half of those transferred.[3]

Brandon Keller is an Executive Editor for JURIS. He is also the Vice Chair of the Public Interest Law Association and a law clerk for Edgar Snyder & Associates. Brandon earned his undergraduate degree at John Carroll University in 2009, where he majored in Political Science and Communication & Theatre Arts and will graduate from Duquesne University School of Law in June of 2012. He can be reached at brandon.r.keller@gmail.com.