PITTSBURGH (News Radio 1020 KDKA/AP) – The teen accused in the stabbing attack at Franklin Regional High School has changed his plea to guilty but mentally ill.

Alex Hribal had previously pleaded not guilty to 21 counts each of attempted homicide and aggravated assault. His attorney, Patrick Tomassey had tried unsuccessfully to get the case moved to juvenile court.

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Thomassey argues the defendant was too mentally ill to appreciate the wrongfulness of his behavior when he stabbed the victims at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville.

“I think the general public has this idea that if it’s ‘guilty but mentally ill’ that when he’s well he gets to go home. He goes to prison. I’m not sure what we’re fighting over,” Thomassey said.

Judge Christopher Feliciani will decide whether to accept or reject the plea.

Hribal told psychiatric experts for the prosecution and the defense he first wanted to commit the attacks on the 15th anniversary of the Columbine attacks but couldn’t because school wasn’t in session that day.

But lingering questions about whether that and other evidence means Hribal was too mentally ill to have a “substantial capacity” to “appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the law,” are preventing Judge Feliciani from determining whether Hribal is guilty but mentally ill.

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But Dr. Bruce Wright, the DA’s expert, said although Hribal was depressed and mentally ill “in my opinion he had the capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions.”

“He chose not to,” Wright said.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck says he will object to allowing Hribal to enter the guilty but mentally ill plea.

If accepted, it could result in Hribal doing some portion of his sentence in a mental health facility.

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