Wednesday, April 2, 2008

3 teens plead not guilty in plot

April 2, 2008


Three DeLand teenagers pleaded not guilty Tuesday to newly filed charges that they had conspired to kill fellow students at DeLand Middle School in a Columbine massacre-styled plot.

The two boys and a girl, all 13, were ordered to remain at Halifax Behavioral Services for treatment, the State Attorney's Office said. The Orlando Sentinel is not identifying them because of their age.

Prosecutors have charged the three students with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to discharge a firearm on school property, and the teenagers will be tried as juveniles.

The murder plot came to light through the first boy's online correspondence with friends through MySpace, investigators have said. Authorities say he was trying to obtain a gun and threatened to lock the cafeteria doors and go on a shooting spree. Investigators searched his bedroom but found no weapons.

"Everyone will pay for what they did to me, they will die along with me," the boy wrote, complaining that other kids were picking on him and had called him "worthless," among other names.

The first boy must remain at Halifax Behavioral Services through the remainder of his 21-day detention, then he would continue treatment through an outpatient program, through which he would receive treatment during the day and would return home at night, according to the judge's order. The other two teenagers will remain at the behavioral center for treatment until doctors deem they are ready for the outpatient program or for release.

David Damron, Mark Pino, Ludmilla Lelis and Luis Zaragoza of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press also was used.

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