John T. Staley III, of the Northwest Side, will be sentenced Feb. 8 by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David E. Cain, who found him guilty of the charge. Although the offense carries a presumption of prison, Staley could receive probation.
He was 16 when he was arrested in October 2016 after a fellow student contacted a school resource officer to say he heard Staley discussing the plot on a school bus. Staley was charged with a delinquency count of conspiracy to commit murder, but a Franklin County Juvenile Court judge transferred the case to adult court in September.
Judge Terri Jamison reviewed evidence in the case, including evaluations by two psychologists, before ruling that Staley was not an appropriate candidate for treatment in the juvenile system.
Staley began speaking with fellow students in person and through an instant messaging app about committing a mass shooting during the 2015-2016 school year, and continued the plot into the 2016-2017 school year, Special Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Gibson said. Two students feigned interest in assisting Staley, he said.
By the time police were made aware of his plans, Staley had created at least three diagrams to map out the shooting and conducted extensive Internet searches about school shootings and how to obtain guns and ammunition and make explosives. A search of the home he shared with his parents uncovered four gas masks and a tactical vest.
Investigators who searched Staley's computer, cellphone and school-issued iPad also found Nazi, neo-Nazi and racist information and imagery, as well as sites glorifying school shooters, Gibson said.
Defense attorney Stephen Palmer said he was prepared to dispute some of the facts presented by prosecutors had the case gone to trial.
In a no-contest plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but does not contest the charges. It can protect a defendant against a plea being used against him in a civil trial and allows a defendant to retain some appeal rights.
(c)2018 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
Visit The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) at www.dispatch.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.