Rocori lawsuit settled

Latest news: Rocori settles shooting lawsuit:

The Rocori school district in Minnesota and the parents of Rocori gunman John Jason McLaughlin have settled the lawsuit against them filed by the parents of McLaughlin’s victims, Aaron Rollins and Seth Bartell.

The settlements, approved Monday night by the school board, call for the district’s insurance and the insurance of McLaughlin’s parents to pay $200,000 to the families of Aaron Rollins and Seth Bartell. The district, which is self-insured, will pay $133,333 of that amount, said Shamus O’Meara, the attorney representing the school district. None of the district’s portion of the settlement will come from district general funds, he said.

The rest of the money will be paid by the McLaughlin’s insurer, O’Meara said.

The civil lawsuits had been dismissed by a judge earlier this year, and the case had been appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The continuing expense of ongoing litigation led to the decision to settle with the families, O’Meara said.

I doubt the Rollinses and the Bartells will find solace in the settlement.

Rocori lawsuit dismissed

Judge tosses lawsuit over Rocori deaths:

A wrongful death lawsuit against the Rocori school district in Minnesota and against the father of a school shooter has been dismissed, but not because the case didn’t have merit.

Seth Bartell and Aaron Rollins were gunned down by John Jason McLaughlin. 15-year-old McLaughlin was sentenced to life in prison last year.

The families of the victims filed the suit claiming negligence by the school and by McLaughlin’s father.

However the case was dismissed on what I consider the smallest of technicalities…

Todd County District Court Judge Jay. D. Carlson dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the attorneys representing the Rollins and Bartell families had not complied with rules governing proper filing of civil lawsuits. Specifically, Carlson ruled that those attorneys failed to include their Minnesota address and that they improperly filed the lawsuit on behalf of the parents, rather than the trustees for each of the slain students.

And people wonder why the court system is so jammed up.

There is reason to believe that the lawsuit can be refiled.

Sometimes you don't

Minnesota Supreme Court upholds Rocori shooter’s convictions:

A few months back I posted that the attorneys for Rocori High School shooter John Jason McLaughlin were trying to have his conviction overturned. The attorney argued that Minnesota’s insanity law, known as the M’Naghten Rule, is outdated and that it doesn’t apply to teens. If you remember McLaughlin shot and killed Aaron Rollins and Seth Bartell with Seth being the intended target. Attorneys for McLaughlin argued that he suffered from suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and only intended to wound Seth Bartell. In my unprofessional opinion he only suffered from “Im faking it”-itis.

Anyway the Minnesota Supreme Court has refused to rule on the appeal stating that the defense did not argue this point at trial.

McLaughlin is serving consecutive life terms in prison.

Sometimes you feel like a nut

Teen guilty in Rocori killings to challenge murder conviction:

John Jason McLaughlin, the Minnesota teen sentenced to life in prison for the shootings of Rocori High students Seth Bartell and Aaron Rollins, is now challenging the insanity law used in Minnesota. If you remember McLaughlin was found sane in the killings. His attorney is now arguing that the insanity law, known as the M’Naghten Rule, is outdated and doesn’t apply to juveniles…

McLaughlin’s attorney, Davi Axelson, is expected to challenge the sentence.

“The M’Naghten Rule is outdated for everyone, but it’s worse when it’s considered for a 15-year-old, whose brain may not fully develop until the age of 21,” said Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, a mental-health advocate. Greiling said she plans to again introduce a bill seeking to update the M’Naghten Rule or replace it with a standard developed by the American Bar Association.

We’re not talking about a toddler here. We’re talking about a 15-year-old boy who made the conscious choice to shoot and kill two other students, one at point-blank range. Most people know by the age of 15 that shooting and killing someone is illegal.

More information on the M’Naghten Rule…

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, who is among the many Minnesota county attorneys who support the M’Naghten Rule, counters: “It’s clearly the best test out there.”

According to the M’Naghten Rule, only people who do not know right from wrong or who do not understand the nature of their acts can be found not guilty by reason of mental illness. People found legally insane are then committed indefinitely to a secure mental hospital rather than a prison.

Twenty-eight states use the rule or a variation of it because “it’s such a simple, easily understood concept,” Backstrom said. “Other tests focus on ambiguous terms or are subject to experts’ opinions. M’Naghten is pretty straightforward.”

Now let’s hear from the Helen Lovejoy’s of the world…

But that doesn’t mean it’s not outdated, said Sue Abderholden, executive director of the Minnesota branch of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

“Even England doesn’t use it anymore,” she said. “The M’Naghten standard is so strict. It’s: Do you know right from wrong? What if you do … but the voices inside your head override what you know is right and wrong? So, you don’t meet the standards.

“The children’s thing is a whole other issue. As a society, we have to decide, Do we treat children differently? And what is the cutoff?”

Except for the fact that McLaughlin didn’t hear voices in his head. He was faking it specifically for an insanity plea. Is this really the kid you want to use as your poster boy to challenge the M’Naghten Rule? One who wasn’t crazy, to begin with?

Luckily the Minnesota Supreme Court has summarily rejected challenges like this to the M’Naghten Rule.

Rocori lawyer calls lawsuit baseless

Attorney for Rocori school district calls allegations ‘baseless’:

Did anyone really expect him to say anything else?

Shamus O’Meara, who represents the district and former principal, said much of the “information referenced about the school district is inaccurate and false … and that criminal investigative agencies have determined to be baseless.”

O’Meara said he couldn’t be more specific about what parts of the lawsuit he was calling inaccurate. But when asked if one of them involved the alleged alert, he said: “That’s an example of one of them.”

The district believes its crisis management and response plans in place at the time of the shooting were sound, O’Meara said.

Tom Rollins explains the motivation behind the lawsuit…

Rollins’ father, Tom Rollins, said filing it was one of the toughest decisions they’ve had to make.

“It took us (the Rollins and Bartells) two years to decide to do it,” he said. “It’s not about the money. It’s about getting the truth out.”

He said he knows some in the community don’t agree with their decision.

But, he said, “We’d all like to know if there were things that could have been done to prevent it. Any concerned parent would say if there were indications there was a threat, what was done?”

Earlier today I received a comment from someone close to one of the victim’s family who said that the families have been financially devastated by this tragedy and they are only trying to save what they have left.

Wrongful death lawsuit against Rocori shooter

Wrongful death lawsuit filed in Rocori school shootings:

The families of Seth Bartell and Aaron Rollins have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the school district that Rocori High is in, the former Rocori principal, the gunman John Jason McLaughlin, and McLaughlin’s father Stearns County Deputy Sheriff David McLaughlin. For those of you who may have forgotten about the Rocori shooting…

Jason McLaughlin was 15 when he brought a loaded .22-caliber pistol to school and shot Bartell, 14, and Rollins, 17. In 2005, he was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

Some startling revelations have been made in the lawsuit that weren’t in the criminal trial…

The lawsuit claims the school district and principal were told a week before the shootings that “an unidentified student planned to bring a gun to Rocori for the purposes of carrying out a shooting.”

And on the day of the killings, the lawsuit alleges, there was another warning. It says a janitor found “4-20” written on the school, – a possible reference to the Columbine school shootings in Colorado on April 20, 1999, or 4-20-1999.

The lawsuit also alleges security equipment at the school was not in working order, and that the district didn’t have a crisis plan in place.

And it alleges that McLaughlin’s father, Stearns County Deputy Sheriff David McLaughlin, provided “virtually unlimited access to a cache of semiautomatic weapons and handguns in the home.”

Except for the 420 reference, which could just be from a stoner, I think that the lawsuit definitely has merit. In my opinion, I don’t think that this is a case of the family making a money grab but rather justice because of people who could not be punished during the criminal trial.

McLaughlin gets consecutive sentences

Rocori shooter gets consecutive sentences: (Log in info)

From the article…

Rocori High School shooter Jason McLaughlin was sentenced in St. Cloud today to a life sentence and a 12-year prison term for killing two classmates in September 2003.

McLaughlin, 17, must serve at least 30 years of the life sentence he received for the first-degree murder of Seth Bartell, 14. He also must serve at least eight years of the 12-year sentence for the second-degree murder of Aaron Rollins, 17.

38 years minimum. For those of you who think that’s too harsh for a 17-year-old just remember, Seth Bartell and Aaron Rollins were given death sentences and they committed no crime.

Kim Bartell Addresses Shooter

Mother of Rocori victim calls for long prison term :

Families of the John Jason McLaughlin’s victims, Seth Bartell and Aaron Rollins, addressed McLaughlin today. Here are some quotes from the article…

Asked what he would do differently if he could relive Sept. 24, 2003, Rocori High School gunman John Jason McLaughlin said recently he’d simply get closer to one victim before he shot him.

But I guess he still would have shot him?

Kim Bartell’s voice rose in anger as she referred to the statement McLaughlin gave to corrections officials after his conviction in July in the deaths of her son, Seth Bartell, 14, and Aaron Rollins, 17.

McLaughlin has no remorse for what he did, she said. McLaughlin, she added “would have carried it out better, meaning to me he would have come out better. Not Aaron. Not Seth.”

And Aaron Rollin’s family…

Aaron Rollins’s mother, sister, and father also took the stand. At one point, Aaron’s father, Tom, held up a large family portrait taken before Aaron died.

“Jason handed us all a life sentence without parole, and he should get the same,” said Sherry Rollins, Aaron’s mother.

And some info about the sentencing…

At issue is whether McLaughlin will serve his sentences consecutively or concurrently, and whether Kirk will give him a harsher sentence for the second-degree conviction in Rollins’s death.

McLaughlin already faces life in prison on the first-degree conviction for Bartell’s death, though he can be considered for parole in 30 years.

Sentencing guidelines call for 12 1/2 years for the second-degree murder conviction.

Let’s hope the word of the day is consecutive.

John Jason McLaughlin's sentencing today

Victims’ families to have their say:

John Jason McLaughlin, the kid who shot and killed Seth Bartell and Aaron Rollins at Rocori High in Minnesota, is scheduled to be sentenced later today. Under Minnesota law family members of the victims have the right to address McLaughlin to describe the emotional, social or economic harm they’ve suffered. Tom Rollins, his wife Sherry, and his daughter Rachel plan to address McLaughlin as does Seth Bartell’s mother Kim. I’ll have news on the sentencing as soon as I can but you may want to keep your eye on this thread as someone may post the sentence here.

Consecutive Sentences Sought for John Jason McLaughlin

Extended Sentence Sought For McLaughlin:

Prosecutors in the case of the Rocori High School shooter John Jason McLaughlin have requested that a judge sentence McLaughlin to two consecutive sentences. If you remember McLaughlin was found guilty of shooting and killing Seth Bartell and Aaron Rollins at Rocori High School in Minnesota. If the judge approves the request McLaughlin could be looking at more than 40 years. Only 40? I thought he was looking at a life sentence.

Anyway, sentencing is still scheduled for August 30th.