A 15-year-old boy accused of attempting to murder a Ferris High School teacher will go on trial this afternoon in Spokane County Juvenile Court.
Judge Ellen Kalama Clark refused Thursday to dismiss a charge of attempted first-degree murder with a firearm. Defense attorney Ronnie Rae argued that Jacob D. Carr didn’t do enough for any reasonable person to convict him.
Rae conceded that Carr planned to kill English teacher Michelle Klein-Coles and himself when he took a loaded .32-caliber semiautomatic pistol to the South Side high school on March 24. But Rae argued that Carr did not take a “substantial step” toward murdering Klein-Coles as required for Clark to convict him in the nonjury trial.
Instead, Rae contended, Carr’s action constituted “mere preparation,” which state law says isn’t enough for an attempted murder conviction.
“He didn’t brandish his gun,” Rae said. “Instead, he realized how stupid the whole thing was and he walked away.”
Moreover, Rae argued, it would be good “public policy” to not punish people who change their minds about committing crimes. Otherwise, he said, “the message we’re sending is, ‘Go ahead and do it.’ “
Rae acknowledged in court documents that Carr got within 6 feet of Klein-Coles with the gun.
Detectives who interviewed Carr said he told them he lurked unseen for more than an hour outside a staff room where Klein-Coles was working, afraid that other adults in the room would prevent him from killing himself if he killed Klein-Coles. Investigators said Carr told them he had second thoughts, but also thought about going ahead with his plan. Then he went around a corner to get a drink of water, and abandoned his plan when he returned and saw Klein-Coles leaving the building.
That “goes way beyond mere preparation,” Deputy Prosecutor Bill Reeves told Clark.
At the time, Carr was 14 and attending Shadle Park High School because he had been expelled from Ferris for threatening in a Dec. 23 e-mail to kill Klein-Coles. Carr pleaded guilty in January to harassment, saying he was angry because Klein-Coles told him to be quiet while allowing other students to talk in class.
He allegedly became angry again in March when Klein-Coles talked about him on a KZZU radio morning show. The talk show focused on an incident in which a Minnesota teenager shot nine people to death at a high school and wounded seven before killing himself.
Carr also is charged with theft of a firearm and second-degree illegal possession of a firearm. If convicted of all the charges, he would face a standard sentence of 16 1/2 to 18 3/4 months of confinement and up to 300 hours of community service. At most, he could be confined until he turns 21.
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