GREENSBURG (KDKA/AP) – A hearing for a teen who stabbed 20 classmates and a security guard at his western Pennsylvania high school ended without a judge ruling whether he’ll be tried as an adult.
Alex Hribal is now 18. He was 16 at the time of the April 2014 attacks at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville.
His attorney acknowledges Hribal committed the attacks using two kitchen knives.
“We’ve been in this for 19 months, and it’s not getting any easier,” said defense attorney Pat Thomassey. “Today was sad, this whole case is sad from both sides. Obviously, some of the victims who testified were moved traumatically.”
Westmoreland County prosecutors want to try Hribal as an adult, which would open him to possibly decades in prison if convicted.
The defense says Hribal’s mental health issues are better dealt with in juvenile court, where Hribal can be supervised or incarcerated only until he’s 21. A prosecution psychiatrist testified Tuesday there’s no guarantee Hribal can be successfully treated by then.
Several people testified during Tuesday’s hearing.
First on the stand was Franklin Regional Assistant Prinicpal Joan Mellon who helped disarm Hribal.
She testified: “He was looking at us but didn’t see us,” “I couldn’t get through to him.”
She also said Hribal screamed, “I wanna die. I need to die”
Also testifying was James Passarelli. Breaking down at times, the Franklin Regional teacher recalled the carnage.
He testified: “There was blood everywhere. Blood squirting in the air from one students arm. Derek Jones was laying on the floor, I thought he was dead.. He wasn’t moving.”
He also said, “Those first few months were some of the worst days of my life.”
Dr. Bruce Wright also spoke about Hribal’s mental status when he took the stand. He said, “[Hribal] suffers from serious mental illness, [and] needs intensive treatment.
Dr. Wright also testified, “I’m concerned for his well-being and the community because of his ability to relapse into violence.”
Hribal showed no emotion during the hearing.
The judge will rule early next year.
“Both sides of the case have been presented to the judge. The transcripts have been ordered and the judge gives us about 60 days to writes a brief. I have to submit my first, and then Mr. Peck submits his, then the judge rules,” said Thomassey.
Until the judge makes that decision Hribal will stay where he’s been since he’s turned 18, the Westmoreland County Jail.
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