The 15-year-old boy accused of gunning down classmates at a high school in western Kentucky received orders of murder and assault charges while the shaken community where he was struggling to cope with the devastation.
On Thursday, the juvenile court judge found probable cause to continue arresting the teenager while authorities gathered evidence to support him as an adult for the attack at Marshall County High School, said Assistant Marshall County Attorney Jason Darnall . Authorities, meanwhile, are looking to gather evidence for a grand jury, hoping to find out why a gun was thrown at a crowd of classmates, all from 14 to 18, as they waited for the morning bell on Tuesday.
Although the legal process began for the suspect, others in the small rural community tried to overcome the impact of Tuesday's shooting that left two people dead and 18 injured with a show of solidarity. Hundreds gathered in twinkling candles after dark to honor the crying victims.
Nearly 300 people, many with visibly etched faces, crowded a park as firemen raised a large American flag in the cool night air. Many teenagers, cupping candles in their palms, embraced and looked grimly. The candle of a girl trembled in her hands while she cried, and others cried when another girl sang "Amazing Grace".
"It always happens elsewhere, you know, but this week was our community," said Misti Drew, a vigil organizer. With the glowing faces of the candles, the participants placed banners and some wore T-shirts with the words "Marshall Strong".
Previously, Vicki Jo Reed painted a poster of "Marshall Strong" in a store, and reflected on the image of her grandson. close call.
"This is one of the most difficult things for me to paint," he said. "He had a grandson who was in the common area throughout the process, and he, like all the other children, is not handling it very well."
Reed said his grandson is also 15 years old, as the suspect to shoot and his two murdered classmates, and is obsessed by the horror he saw.
"He wakes up to the shots every morning," Reed said.
Bailey's mother Nicole Holt, who died at the scene, said she received a call from her daughter's phone but could not hear her.
"He called me, and all I could hear were voices and chaos in the background and he could not say anything," Secret Holt told WKRN-TV in Nashville. "I called her name again and again and she never answered, so we ran to high school and they did not let us through."
Thursday's closed-door hearing for the suspect started a trip through the criminal justice system that's a little more complicated than it would be if the suspect were an adult accused of the same crimes. After an initial series of hearings in the juvenile court, which is closed to the public and records sealed under Kentucky law, the case will be presented to a grand jury that will meet on February 13.
If the grand jury returns a formal accusation, the case will go to the circuit court, at which time the prosecution will proceed as an ordinary criminal trial. But the child will have some protections: the law requires that he remain in a juvenile prison, not in the general population of a county facility. And if he is found guilty in the trial, he will not face the most severe sentences in the state.
Kentucky juries can usually recommend a variety of sentences, up to death, for adults found guilty of murder.
But the Supreme Court of the USA. States prohibited from sentencing minors to death or life without parole, finding that children should be treated differently because their brains still in development leave young people prone to poor judgment.
And Kentucky has gone through this before, when a teenager convicted of shooting at a school that attracted national attention more than two decades ago was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
Michael Carneal was 14 years old in 1997 when he killed three students and injured five at Heath High School in Paducah, not far from Marshall County. Convicted and sentenced in 2001, he is now 34 years old and eligible for parole in four years, according to state records.
Schreiner reported from Frankfort, Kentucky. Galofaro reported from Louisville, Kentucky.