Teen pleads guilty to weapons charge in Utah school bomb plot

Reuters News

4/18/2012 8:09:20 PM - Reuters News

By Jennifer Dobner

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - A 16-year-old boy who authorities said plotted to bomb his Utah high school, inspired by the 1999 Columbine school massacre, has pleaded guilty to a weapons charge, and prosecutors recommended he spend six months in juvenile detention.

The teenager entered the plea on Tuesday in juvenile court in Ogden, Utah, to one count of possession or use of a weapon of mass destruction, court spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.

Prosecutors said the teen, who attended Roy High School about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City, was serious about carrying out the bomb plot.

The 16-year-old was arrested in January with classmate Dallin Morgan, 18, after another Roy High student showed police text messages about a plan the boys had to, in their words, "get revenge on the world."

Police have said the 16-year-old, who Reuters is not identifying because he is a minor, and Morgan concocted a detailed plot to bomb an assembly at the school and planned to steal a small plane from a nearby airstrip and fly away.

Court papers said the 16-year-old told police he was fascinated with the 1999 shooting massacre at Colorado's Columbine High, in which two high school seniors killed 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide.

Searches of the two Utah students' homes turned up maps of Roy High along with flight training manuals and simulation programs on DVDs. No explosives were found, but the charges included an accusation of criminal conspiracy that let prosecutors pursue a weapon charge, although no bomb was found.

Weber County Deputy Attorney Letitia Toombs said the teen said he would never have killed anyone and that he only intended to point out the inadequacy of school security to administrators. But she disputed that.

"Are we 100 percent sure that he was going to do it or not going to do it? What we believe is that yes, he had the intent of going forward with it," she said.

The teen's lawyer could not be reached for comment.

The plea agreement represented a good outcome to the case, Toombs said.

"Nobody has a crystal ball, but the hope is that this is going to wake him up and get his thinking changed so that he doesn't make the same mistakes," Toombs told Reuters.

Juvenile District Judge Janice Frost also ordered the teen to pay up to $10,000 in restitution to the high school to cover the expenses of re-keying door locks on all campus buildings.

Morgan faces the same charge of possession or use of a weapon of mass destruction in adult court.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Lisa Shumaker)