The mother of the teenager accused of attempting to kill a Ferris High School teacher last month says the profile of her son painted by police and media reports is not the fun-loving boy she knows.
“Jacob and I are pretty close. When I get home from work he’s always there and he’s always, ‘I love you, mom,’ and, ‘Hi mom,’ ” Audrey Schmidt said. “He just adds to my life so much. He just puts so much humor into our lives. He’s always goofing around and making people laugh.”
As prosecutors contemplate whether to charge the boy as an adult, which would carry stiffer penalties if he’s convicted, Schmidt and the boy’s lawyer, Ronnie Rae, sought Saturday to provide additional insights into the adolescent’s life in the hopes that parents, educators and others across Spokane will have a more complete picture.
“What Jacob did was wrong. But everybody asks, ‘Why, Ronnie, why did Jacob do this?’ ” Rae said. “He’s sick, and he was pushed to a point that his mental capacity could not allow him to rationalize the issue and act like an adult. He’s not an adult, he’s a child and he acted like a child.”
On March 24, Jacob Carr, 14, left a suicide note and stole his mother’s boyfriend’s handgun from a nightstand, according to court documents. He then went to Ferris High School with the intention of killing his former English teacher, Michelle Klein-Coles, and himself, police say.
Carr is charged in juvenile court with attempted first-degree murder with a firearm, theft of a firearm and second-degree illegal possession of a firearm. The prosecutor handling the case said last week that he will decide soon if he will ask a judge to transfer Carr to adult court.
If convicted as a juvenile, Carr would face up to 19 months behind bars. As an adult, he could face 25 years in prison.
Schmidt and her long-time boyfriend who acts as Jacob’s stepfather, Randy Howell, said in an interview Saturday that Carr was a jovial kid who often joked around, but recently had experienced depression – especially since he was suspended in January from Ferris for sending a threatening e-mail to Klein-Coles.
The e-mail told Klein-Coles that “your house, all your belongings and you will be burned to the ground.” In that case, Carr was charged with first-degree harassment and spent 30 days in juvenile detention.
“The added frustration on Jacob was just a very tough thing,” Howell said. “He was so sorry for what he had done. He was very sad, and he did everything he could. He wrote letters to her saying he was sorry. He read an apology letter in court.”
Schmidt said she did not know how long her son had problems with Klein-Coles. Carr told investigators that he was angry with Klein-Coles because she had disrespected him and told him to be quiet while letting other students talk, according to court documents. Carr also said that he meant to send the threatening e-mail to a friend, but mistakenly sent it to her.
Rae said Klein-Coles retaliated against Carr for sending the e-mail by reading it to many of her classes.
“The humiliation and the horror of that came to a head,” Rae said. “We’re not saying we condone violence at all, but we believe this teacher may have tortured Jacob a bit. Maybe not knowing what she was doing, but whatever she was doing it had a great effect on Jacob, obviously.”
Attempts to reach Klein-Coles on Friday and Saturday were unsuccessful.
Court records indicate that Carr decided to kill Klein-Coles when he found out she had talked about her experience with the e-mail on the radio in the aftermath of a school shooting in Minnesota.
Rae insisted that he was not blaming the victim.
Rae said Schmidt and Howell would not comment about the gun in the home.
After his suspension at Ferris, Carr had been attending classes at Shadle Park High School.
“The report back from his teachers was he was doing fine. He was doing his school work. He was turning things in,” Howell said. “He was doing great in that transition, it looked like.”