- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—WASECA — Prosecutors and defense have now submitted in writing very different views of what could happen next to the troubled teen John LaDue, who was accused and then exonerated for plans to blow up his Waseca school.

The prosecution and defense have submitted their arguments and proposed orders for what they think the judge should do as he considers whether to try LaDue as an adult for possession of explosive charges he still faces.

LaDue faces six counts of possession of explosives in an alleged April 2014 plot to blow up Waseca Junior-Senior High School, but the most serious charges against him were dismissed after a judge decided the prosecution lacked evidence to support them. LaDue was 17 at the time of his arrest.

In a June 30 hearing, experts testified on LaDue’s diagnosis on the autism spectrum disorder. They also talked about adult and juvenile incarceration options and LaDue’s likelihood of committing violent acts in the future.

Third District Senior Judge Robert Birnbaum did not make a decision at the hearing on the question of whether LaDue should be tried as an adult or juvenile. He will consider the proposed orders filed by the prosecutor Brenda Miller, Waseca County attorney, on Friday and the defense, public defenders Dawn Johnson, Steve Bergeson and Stephen Ferrazzano, on Monday.

The prosecution says the judge should certify LaDue as an adult, saying public safety is best served by this move. The prosecution posits that the juvenile system would not have jurisdiction over LaDue for a long enough period, as he is over the age of 18 and even extended juvenile jurisdiction only lasts to an individual’s 21st birthday. Some of the expert testimony indicated LaDue may need years of therapy to reduce his likelihood of committing future violent acts.

But the defense pointed to statements made by experts that indicated the juvenile system would be preferable to an adult prison situation, where participation in treatment would be voluntary.

“All of the witnesses recognized the uniqueness of this case and the challenges facing Mr. LaDue,” the defense wrote in its memo. “Each stated that appropriate treatment is available in the juvenile justice system.”

The prosecution also argues that LaDue was entirely responsible for his actions and that the crimes are serious enough to warrant trial as an adult.

The defense disagreed, saying in its memorandum filed Monday that the charges that remain do not carry a presumptive prison sentence and that the prosecution has failed to prove that public safety requires an adult trial.

“(T)he seriousness is inflated because of the allure to consider them in context with non-criminal behavior, i.e. the dismissed charges,” the defense wrote.

While the defense argued that LaDue had no prior record and should not be considered an adult for trial, prosecutors argued that behavior that helped move his plot along, though hidden, could be considered a record of delinquency.

And while the defense argued that LaDue has cooperated with and is progressing in programming at Prairie Lakes Youth Program, Willmar, prosecution averred that he has overtly cooperated but that he has failed to internally accept some attempted intervention.

Follow Nancy Madsen on Twitter @nmadsenmfp.

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