Suspect T.J. Lane appeared in juvenile court Tuesday, where the
judge ordered him held in custody pending trial for Monday's school
shooting in Chardon, Ohio. The state is one that routinely transfers
minors to adult court.
T.J. Lane, the teenager held as a suspect in a fatal shooting
outside a Cleveland-area high school on Monday, appeared in juvenile
court Tuesday, where a judge determined that he will remain in
custody pending trial. Whether the 17-year-old will face trial as a
juvenile or an adult will be determined next month, but Ohio is a
state where minors charged with serious crimes are routinely
transferred to adult court.
Authorities say the suspect, whom they have not identified by
name because he is a minor, shot five students, killing three, at
Chardon High School early Monday morning before fleeing the building
on foot. The identity of the suspect, a 17-year-old sophomore, was
made public by students who recognized him and by his family, who
released a public statement Monday night.
Speaking after the court hearing, county prosecutor David Joyce
said T.J. selected his victims at random and has confessed to the
shooting. "This is not about bullying," he said, refuting some news
reports that the suspect may have been a victim of bullying in the
past. "This is about someone who is not well." He said the likely
charges will be three counts of aggravated murder, plus others, and
that he expected to ask the juvenile court to allow T.J. be tried as
an adult. In addition to carrying a .22-caliber pistol, T.J. also
carried a knife into the school, the prosecution says.
All matters related to the legal proceedings would change if
indeed T.J. Lane is tried as an adult. The most serious is
sentencing: Juveniles in Ohio who commit serious crimes might serve
sentences as short as five years; if tried as an adult, T.J. would
probably face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
"There's a big difference. He will be tried like any other adult
defendant and sentenced like any other adult defendant," says
Douglas Abrams, a law professor at the University of Missouri School
The confidentiality that surrounds cases of juvenile defendants
would also fall away, allowing media access to the trial and the
public release of his name by authorities. Also, unlike in juvenile
trials, a jury would decide the case, not a judge.
In 2010, Ohio transferred 303 juveniles, ages 14 to 20, to adult
court, according to data from the Ohio Department of Youth Services.
One hundred and fifty juveniles aged 17, the same age as T.J.,
represented half of those. The previous year, the state tried 310
juveniles as adults. Ohio is one of 15 states to mandate that
juveniles charged with certain crimes, such as homicide, be tried as
adults, says the American Civil Liberties Union, which gives the
state a 'C-' rating as a result. The other 35 states leave such
decisions to the judge's discretion. It is not yet determined if the
charges expected to be filed against T.J. fall under that mandate.
On Wednesday, the juvenile court judge, Timothy Grendell, will
consider requests from the media to make public any juvenile court
records for T. …