June 15, 2007
Two teenagers have been convicted of conspiracy to commit murder at their Montgomery County middle school, but one received an indefinite term in the juvenile justice system and the other got a suspended sentence.
Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Marc Long convicted Jessee Collins, 15, and Dylan McCroskey, 14, on Thursday of conspiring to kill the principal, school resource officer and two other people at Auburn Middle School on March 16.
Long called Collins, who took a Civil War replica .22-caliber revolver and ammunition to school that day, "worse than a terrorist." Long also convicted Collins of bringing a gun onto school property and possession of a firearm by someone younger than 18 and ordered him to the state juvenile justice system, which can hold children until age 21.
Testimony indicated Collins had endured abuse as a child and had a history of violence that included torturing and killing animals. Commonwealth's Attorney Brad Finch said Collins' criminal record included assault, sexual abuse and petty larceny charges.
McCroskey, who has no criminal history, was ordered to perform 250 hours of community service and placed on probation.
McCroskey testified Thursday that although Collins had talked about taking a gun to school, he didn't know Collins had done so until he was called to the principal's office.
According to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, a student reported that Collins and McCroskey talked about killing the four people. The gun that Collins took to Auburn Middle was a decoration in the home of his older brother, who has custody of him. The ammunition was kept in a lockbox, according to the brother, Michael Foutz.
McCroskey's attorney, Dave Rhodes, said the shooting rampage that left 33 dead on the Virginia Tech campus less than 20 miles away a month after the boys were arrested had a strong impact on his client.
Asked if he had anything to say, McCroskey told the judge, "I'm very sorry, your honor, and I wish I would have told somebody, because after what happened at Tech, I see what could have happened at Auburn."
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