- Associated Press - Thursday, May 24, 2012

CHARDON, Ohio — A 17-year-old will be tried as an adult in the school shooting deaths of three students, a juvenile court judge ruled Thursday after hearing a sheriff’s deputy describe how the teen wore a T-shirt with the word “Killer” and admitted shooting people.

T.J. Lane admitted firing at students sitting at a cafeteria table at Chardon High School east of Cleveland on Feb. 27, killing three and seriously wounding two, authorities say.

Mr. Lane, with his grandparents and the relatives of victims sitting apart in court, swallowed hard and blinked as Geauga County Juvenile Court Judge Timothy Grendell announced that he should be tried as an adult.

Mr. Lane could face life in prison if he’s convicted. Minors are not eligible for the death penalty in Ohio. Had his case been routed to juvenile court, the maximum possible penalty would have kept him imprisoned until he turned 21.

The judge said he found probable evidence in all six charges against Mr. Lane, including aggravated murder counts. Judge Grendell rejected a defense request to release Mr. Lane on a $500,000 bond, saying Mr. Lane would pose a risk to flee and a safety risk to the community.

The ruling capped a morning hearing that offered new details about the attack, but left unanswered the question of motive.

The judge, over the objections of the Associated Press and other media outlets, cleared the courtroom of everyone but Mr. Lane and attorneys while a surveillance video of the shooting scene was played. The tape could jeopardize Mr. Lane’s chance to get a fair trial, the judge ruled.

Attorneys in the case are under a gag order, and the judge extended it to prohibit any discussion of the video.

Geauga County Sheriff’s Deputy Jon Bilicic testified that he helped arrest Mr. Lane, who was wearing a T-shirt with the word “Killer,” about a mile from the school and questioned him closely.

Asked by defense lawyer Mark DeVan whether Mr. Lane had admitted, “I shot people,” the deputy answered yes.

The deputy said that Mr. Lane was asked about a motive and responded, “I don’t know.”

Asked by the deputy how many people he had shot, Mr. Lane responded, “I have no idea,” Deputy Bilicic said.

The deputy also acknowledged that Mr. Lane indicated he hadn’t been using drugs, wasn’t suicidal or depressed and hadn’t been bullied.

Asked if he had hit anyone in the head, Mr. Lane told the deputy, “I don’t know.”

The defense line of questioning apparently was meant to underscore a psychiatrist’s findings that Mr. Lane sometimes loses touch with reality and suffers from hallucinations, psychosis and fantasies.