A teenage boy from Ohio, John Staley III, has been charged with plotting a mass shooting at an Ohio high school has been sentenced to four years in an adult prison.
The case, which can be tied back to 2016, started when a classmate of Staley’s overheard discuss a shooting plot on the school bus. Staley had been taken into police custody before a shooting plan could happen at the school.
According to officials, Staley had been suspended from Hilliard Davidson High School in 2016, after a classmate heard him discuss a shooting plot on the school bus, which was not carried out. Officials later found at least three school diagrams to map out a shooting that Staley had designed, as well as lists of weapons and ammunition, also written by Staley. Reportedly, he also tried to recruit other students for help. Authorities added that electronic devices belonging to Staley contained searches on how to obtain guns, making explosives, ammunition, Nazis and school shooters.
Joe Gibson, Special Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor, later explained the evidence more in depth, according to NBC 4:
“He researched firearms. When it became difficult to get firearms he researched parts of firearms, so he could assemble them at the school. Before the attack he researched and traded around racist imagery.”
According to The Columbia Dispatch, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David E. Cain there was “very little chance” that a shooting would have happened, according to evidence, but added that “even a slight chance is way too much.”
According to Daily Mail, Special Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Gibson added that prison was “the only appropriate sentence” and that “the defendant should not be rewarded for not being able to carry it out.”
Defense attorney Steve Palmer, who was just one of Staley’s two defense attorneys, has said that he felt the case should not have happened in adult court and plans to appeal the juvenile court ruling that sent it there.
Reportedly, letters and psychologists’ reports influenced the judge to give a minimum sentence of three to 11 years in prison.
Who is John Staley III?
Staley was 16 when he was arrested in October 2016, after the fellow student who overheard his shooting plan contacted a school resource officer. A Juvenile Court judge later transferred the case to adult court in September 2017.
According to Daily Mail, during a pre-sentencing interview, Staley originally claimed that what happened was “a sick joke that got out of hand.” He reportedly told the following to the judge:
“I never meant for it to go this far…Please have mercy on me, sir.”
According to NBC 4, he also made the following plea before the judge:
“I am gravely sorry to my friends, family and people I’ve affected with these actions. I never meant for this to go this far. I am sorry I have to be in front of you today your honor, please have mercy on me sir.”
Cain’s response was as follows:
“Your actions causes great, great concern, that is why it is a 1st degree felony. It is not enough to say later that it was a joke. From what I have read I think there was very little chance that it would have occurred, but even a slight chance is way too much.”
Under the sentence, Staley is eligible to apply for judicial release after serving six months in prison. He is also credited for the 349 days he spent in a juvenile detention center.
Tonja Blackmon, a teacher in the juvenile detention center where Staley was held, has said the following about Staley in his defense, claiming he had been reformed:
“This is a child that has been rehabilitated. I don’t see any of that racist or violence or anger. And neither do the other teachers, they wouldn’t have written a letter for him if they did.”
Palmer also said the following in defense of Staley:
“You want to make this kid a racist; send him to prison. You want to make this kid a criminal; send him to prison. You want to make this kid dangerous; send him to prison.”