A 10-year-old Colville boy pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring to kill a classmate and tampering with a witness in a plot that prosecutors believe was thwarted by school officials.
The boy was one of two fifth-graders arrested Feb. 7 after school officials discovered the boys trying to sneak a stolen gun and a knife into their school as part of a documented plan to kill fellow classmates.
The 10-year-old’s attorney, Helen Hokom, stood up at a routine status conference Monday and announced that her client had decided to plead as charged, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said.
Superior Court Judge Al Nielson questioned the boy carefully, Rasmussen said. During questioning, the boy said he and his 11-year-old classmate at Fort Colville Elementary School were going to kill a girl in their class.
A status conference has been set for April 15 for the 11-year-old, who faces the same charges, Rasmussen said. Don Richter, the attorney for the 11-year-old, declined to comment Monday.
The boys were arrested after another student saw one of them playing with a knife on the school bus. Once alerted, school officials separated the boys and found a .45 caliber pistol inside the 10-year-old’s backpack.
On March 29, Nielson ruled that prosecutors had shown enough evidence to overcome state law, which presumes that any child aged 8-12 does not have the mental capacity to form the intent to commit the crimes as charged.
Both boys were charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, possession of a firearm and tampering with a witness.
Nielson set a hearing for 1 p.m. on April 22 to determine the 10-year-old boy’s sentence.
He currently faces a range of 103 to 127 weeks of incarceration in a juvenile institution, but Rasmussen has filed notice that he intends to ask for manifest injustice, which would allow the judge to sentence the boy above or below that standard range.
Nielson will rule after hearing from a psychologist and psychiatrist. If he agrees with prosecutors, the boy could be held until he turns 21.
The 10-year-old is related to Eric Booth, who was convicted of murder last year after he killed a 63-year-old man in 2011.
The incident at Fort Colville Elementary School began on a bus ride to school Feb. 7 when a fourth-grader saw one of the two boys playing with a knife, according to court records.
The student alerted school employees, who found the gun in the 10-year-old’s backpack.
The 10-year-old said he and the 11-year-old were going to kill a girl identified in court documents only by initials.
A school staff member obtained a list of students in the boys’ fifth-grade class, and the 11-year-old allegedly showed her six more names of students they were going to target.
Later, a police detective overheard the boys talking as they waited to be transported to a juvenile facility in Spokane.
“If I find out who told them about our weapons I’m going to kill them,” the 11-year-old said, according to the police detective. “I don’t care when I get out of jail; I’m going to come back and kill them.”