MINNEAPOLIS — A teenager accused of plotting to kill his family and carry out an attack at a southern Minnesota school did not take substantial steps to carry out his plan and should not face charges of attempted murder, the state Court of Appeals ruled Monday.
The decision affirms a lower court ruling to dismiss four attempted murder counts and two counts of attempted damage to property. The teen still faces six counts of possessing explosives.
The teen's attorney, Dawn Johnson, said she was pleased with the ruling and eager to address legal issues associated with the remaining counts. A message left with the prosecutor was not immediately returned Monday.
The teen was arrested last April after authorities said they found him with bomb-making materials in a storage locker in Waseca, 70 miles south of Minneapolis. Court documents say they also found guns, explosives and a 180-page journal that outlined a plan to kill his family, set a fire to divert first responders, then go to Waseca Junior and Senior High School and "kill as many students as he could."
The teen, who was 17 at the time, told authorities he had been planning the attack for more than a year. Authorities say he acquired supplies and tested explosive devices in various locations in Waseca.
Under Minnesota law, an attempted crime is committed when a person takes a substantial step toward committing a crime, and the step must be an overt act and more than mere preparation, the appeals court judges wrote.
"The law in Minnesota does not prohibit (the teen's) conduct," the judges wrote. "We cannot invite speculation as to whether the acts would be carried out."
Prosecutors argued that attempt occurred when the teen stored a loaded gun in his bedroom and was prepared to kill his family if they discovered his plan. But the judges found that even if the teen had intended to kill his family, stashing the gun wasn't a substantial step toward attempted murder.
Prosecutors have indicated they wanted to try the teen as an adult, but that issue has not been determined yet. The teen, now 18, is in custody and receiving therapy.
"His spirits have been steadily improving," Johnson, the teen's attorney, said.
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