Agent: S.C. teen wanted to kill Jesus|
April 29, 2008
FLORENCE, S.C. (AP) — A teen accused of plotting to blow up his high school told police that he wanted to die, go to heaven and kill Jesus, federal authorities said Tuesday.
Prosecutors argued in a federal courtroom that the statements are an indication that 18-year-old Ryan Schallenberger needs a psychological evaluation. The straight-A Chesterfield High School senior was arrested April 19 and faces several state and federal charges, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. That charge carries a possible life sentence if he is convicted.
"His conduct is bizarre," prosecutor Buddy Bethea told Judge Thomas Rogers III, who did not immediately issue a ruling. "I think it screams out in his conduct that he be evaluated."
Defense attorney Bill Nettles said the request was premature, and that Schallenberger was competent to help in his defense.
Prosecutors want Schallenberger, currently at Chesterfield County jail, moved to a federal facility because they think he may try to commit suicide. His journal writings have become increasingly violent over the past year, prosecutor Rose Mary Parham said.
An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives testified that the teen told a sheriff he wanted to die after his arrest.
"He said death was better than life," Craig Townsend said. "He told the sheriff he wanted to die and go to heaven and once he got there, he wanted to kill Jesus."
Prosecutors also played a 911 tape of the teen's mother calling police after he smashed his head into a wall two days before his arrest. On the tape, she says her son threatened to shoot police if they came.
"He's not going to do it," Laurie Sittler told the operator. "He's just got a bad temper."
The teen left but his mother was scared he would return, she said in the call. "He's planning to go to college and everything, but I don't know what to do," she said.
Schallenberger was arrested after his parents picked up at the post office a package addressed to the teen containing 20 pounds of ammonium nitrate. They got nervous and looked through his room where they found a cassette tape he wanted played after he died, which they took to the sheriff's office, the agent testified. Authorities found his journal, which lauded the Columbine killers, after searching his room.
The 50-page journal contained notes on more than 10 types of explosives that Schallenberger experimented with and evaluated a year ago, the agent testified. It had a black cover and "Pisces" written on the front, and authorities have said it contained detailed plans to bomb Chesterfield High School.
Schallenberger's parents were at the hearing but would not comment.
Townsend also testified Schallenberger's mother called police to the home in April last year, when the teen was arrested for breach of peace. He said the teen became enraged and knocked over furniture after his mother asked him to walk with his sister to a grandparent's home.
Authorities also seized a computer that shows he searched websites for making bombs, a shotgun, carbon dioxide canisters, "hundreds and hundreds" of matchsticks, and more cassette tapes that they have not yet heard, Townsend said.
Original article: USA Today
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