The Verdict

State of Minnesota, Plaintiff vs. John Jason McLaughlin, defendant: (log in info)

2. On or prior to September 24, 2003 John Jason McLaughlin (“Defendant”) knowingly took the following actions:

a. The Defendant took his father’s 22-Caliber Colt semi-automatic pistol from a dresser in a spare be3droom in his home without permission. He took the gun while his father was in the shower, indicating his awareness that it was “wrong” to take his father’s gun. The Defendant also took 10 federal long rifle (hollow point) cartridges from a closet in the bedroom and loaded those cartridges into the magazine of the pistol.

b. The Defendant had performed surveillance of the school prior to the shooting to detect security cameras and other security devices that would prevent him from carrying out his plan, indicating his awareness that it was “wrong” to take a gun to school.

c. The Defendant hid the pistol in his gym bag and entered Rocori High School before 7:30 a.m., again indicating his awareness that it was “wrong” to take a gun to school. The Defendant initially put the gym bag containing his pistol in his locker. At 7:40 a.m. he sent an e-mail from his keyboarding classroom to at the school Brittany Kelly. The unedited-mail read:

“Befor I go to far I have to ask you not to tell any one about this not the news cops or parents ok lets start at the top I like you I have always like you fome the first time I saw you until this varry day. I would have said some ting but I was too shy. But you were the nicest person I ever met and I thank you for that. So I guess this is goodbye my love.”

This e-mail suggest the Defendant knew of the wrongfulness of his plan because of his request for Brittany to conceal his plan from others, his awareness that the police would be involved and his statement “befor [he goes] to far”. Through his “goodbye”, he also intimates that he was aware that his actions would prevent him from future communications with Brittany.

d. During the third period of the school day, the Defendant removed the gun from his locker and brought it with him to his Driver’s education class. He asked other students if they had seen Cody Enstad “Cody” or Seth Bartell “Seth” at school that day.

e. The Defendant loaded his weapon in the bathroom in the swimming locker room so he would not be discovered and prevented from carrying out his plan.

f. Shortly thereafter, he followed Seth from the locker room to the hallway, where he aimed and fired the weapon at Seth, hitting him in the lower back on the left side. The gun jammed, and the Defendant un-jammed it to proceed with his plan

g. Because the first shot did not stop Seth, the Defendant pursued him down the hallway, shooting the second bullet wildly and without regard to whether he wounded or killed with his shot, contradicting his assertion that he intended only to hurt, and not kill Seth. The second bullet hit and killed Aaron Rollins. The Defendant followed his target, Seth, up the stairs, having paused briefly and losing sight of him in the stairwell. The Defendant arrived in the gymnasium after Seth. When Seth turned to face him, the Defendant shot Seth in the forehead, from a distance of two feet or less.

h. As the Defendant’s story evolved in later interviews with mental health experts, he claims he only intended to shoot Seth in the shoulder in a manner that would only hurt and not kill.

i. However, the Defendant admitted to Agent McDonald on the date of the shootings that he planned to bring a gun to school to “shoot some people”. The Defendant admitted that he followed Seth up the stairs to “shoot him again”, indicating that he was aware that he had already hit and wounded his target.

j. The defendant completed a gun safety course in the Spring of 2003. In that course he learned, among other things, not to point a firearm at a living creature unless you intend to kill it, and the violent impact of firearms. The test he completed at the end of the course demonstrates that he took the course seriously and was proficient in the areas covered during the course. His ability to learn and test well during his Gun Safety course is in stark contrast to his school performance during that period and indicates his academic ability when motivated.

k. The defendant, prior to September 24, 2003 had frequently fired pistols at ranges with his father. Of the firearms he had fired, he was most familiar and proficient with the pistol involved in these shootings.

It’s good to see the justice system working for once.

Sentencing is set for August 30th.

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