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UMd. Student accused of threatening shooting spree fit to stand trial

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The University of Maryland student accused of threatening to go on a shooting rampage at the College Park campus, was deemed competent to stand trial Tuesday in Prince George's County's Mental Health Court.

But prosecutors said it could be months before the case involving 19-year-old Alexander Song goes to trial, if at all.

"It's really at the judge's discretion," said John Erzen, spokesman for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office. "They are going to take everything into account."

The contrast was stark between Mr. Song, who dressed in a black suit and appeared calm and collected, and others on the mental health docket who were brought into the courtroom in shackles and jail jumpsuits and at times spoke incoherently.

"I feel much better than I did when I was in the hospital," said Mr. Song, addressing District Court Judge Patrice E. Lewis.

A little more than a month ago, Mr. Song was arrested on campus, accused of posting messages online threatening to go on a shooting spree. Three people alerted University of Maryland campus police of messages they saw on social media websites on March 10.

Mr. Song was hospitalized after being taken into custody but later released and charged with eight crimes from the March incident, including disruption of a school's operations and misuse of electronic mail. A search of both his dorm room and family's Fulton, Md., home did not turn up any weapons, police said.

At Tuesday's hearing, where Mr. Song was accompanied by an attorney and a family member, Judge Lewis reviewed Mr. Song's upcoming doctor's appointments and medication.

"As people get to feeling better, that's when parents get the 'I'm a grown man' speech. That's not going to happen is it?" Judge Lewis asked, referencing the reasons people may give when they want to stop taking their prescribed medications.

"No, your honor," Mr. Song answered.

"Keep up the good work. You're looking a lot better," she replied.

Five University of Maryland campus police officers sat on the right side of the courtroom, watching the exchange. Since the incident, Mr. Song has been banned indefinitely from all the University of Maryland's grounds and is currently under home detention.

Mr. Song declined to comment after the hearing. His attorney, Steven B. Vinick, said only that he is pleased thus far with the way the case has been handled.

A follow-up hearing was scheduled for May 15.

It is typical for hearings to continue to be scheduled for four to six months before additional motions are made in mental health cases, Mr. Erzen said.

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