Judge to determine if accused Freeman High School shooter should be tried as adult

Attorneys in a Spokane County courtroom on Monday began presenting evidence to determine whether the teenager accused of a school shooting nearly two years ago will be tried for murder as a juvenile or an adult.

17-year-old Caleb Sharpe faces one count of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder, and 51 counts of second-degree assault for the September 2017 shooting at Freeman High School south of Spokane. Sharpe was 15 years old at the time of the incident that left a fellow student dead and three others injured.

On Monday, Spokane County Prosecutor Kelly Fitzgerald said Sharpe had planned his attack for months, and on the morning of the shooting, Sharpe packed his father’s AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and “over 20 boxes” of ammunition in a golf bag to get into the school undetected, while also hiding a handgun inside his coat.

Soon after arriving at school, Sharpe pulled out the AR-15, but it jammed. He grabbed the handgun and fatally shot one student. The shooter also fired bullets that wounded three girls. Sharpe later confessed to the shooting and gave intricate detail to detectives about how he carried it out.

Sharpe’s attorney claims his client suffered a medical incident at birth, and the lawyer is expected to bring two experts who believe that the brain damage caused personality disorders or brain abnormalities that may have contributed to Sharpe’s actions.

Closing arguments aren’t expected until next week, after which Superior Court Judge Michael Price will decide whether Sharpe will be tried as a juvenile or as an adult.

If the case remains in Spokane County Juvenile Court and Sharpe is convicted, he would be released at age 21. If he is tried as an adult, he would face up to life in prison. (Spokesman-Review)

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