PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – A major pretrial hearing started Monday in the case of a 17-year-old boy charged as an adult with stabbing 20 fellow students and a security guard at Franklin Regional High School last year.
Monday’s hearing for Alex Hribal, of Murrysville, may determine whether the former student will remain on track to be tried as an adult next month in the April 2014 stabbing rampage.
That’s crucial for Hribal, because if the case is moved to juvenile court, the suspect – who turns 18 in October – would face incarceration or court supervision only until he’s 21.
Westmoreland County prosecutors, by contrast, want Hribal to face trial as an adult, which means he’ll face decades in prison if convicted.
So far the defense has put on a psychiatrist and a psychologist – both testifying that Alex Hribal is responding to treatment and that he should continue to get treatment within the juvenile justice system rather than the adult criminal system.
Dr. Bruce Chambers, a forensic psychologist, testified that when he evaluated Hribal, not long after the stabbings at franklin regional, he was suffering from severe depression, was psychotic and suffered from delusional thinking. He told Chambers he modeled the stabbings after the Columbine High School massacre and chose the date based on the birthday of one of the gunmen.
But now, after treatment, he realizes he wasn’t thinking clearly and was in a dark place. And two professionals argued that he would not do well in an adult prison.
But prosecutor John Peck asked whether Hribal was faking his recovery, trying to manipulate the system. The defense experts responded no.
Victim Gerg Keener was also in court Monday, testifying.
“I think he should be tried as an adult because of the emotional and physical harm he caused,” he said.
Assistant Principal Sam King also testified, describing the scene on the day of the stabbings.
“I said to him drop the knives,” said King. “He said, ‘I’m not going to drop the knives. My work isn’t finished. There are more people to kill.’”
“Once he let go of the knives he said, ‘Let me go. Let them kill me,’” King added.
Victim Conner Warwick, when asked on the stand whether Alex Hribal should be tried as an adult or a juvenile said, “You can’t fix evil with a pill. Keep him in adult court.”
The hearing will resume with more prosecution testimony at a later date. The prosecution also requested another evaluation of Hribal.
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