Testimony ends in Socastee teen hearing

The mother of the teen accused in the Socastee High shooting testified in court Wednesday.

Testimony has ended in the hearing to determine if a Socastee High teen will be tried as an adult on charges he shot at an officer and brought pipe bombs to school.

Throughout the day, we heard testimony from prosecution and defense witnesses.

Wednesday afternoon, the mother of a teenager, who's accused of firing a gun at a school resource officer in September 2010, said she saw no signs that her son was planning the shooting.

She testified Wednesday at a hearing in Horry County Family Court to decide whether the teen will be tried as an adult. He faces attempted murder and explosives charges. We are not identifying the student or his mother, because he is still charged as a juvenile.

The teen is accused of shooting at Officer Erik Karney and bringing pipe bombs to school.

The boy's mother said the 15-year-old had been bullied by other boys when he was in the 6th and 7th grades at Forestbrook Middle School and that she and the boy's father had repeatedly complained to school administrators that nothing was being done about the teasing. She said the boy had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the 3rd grade, but with medication and counseling, he showed dramatic improvement and by the 8th grade was doing well in school.

She said she knew her son was fearful as he entered 9th grade, because the same boys who had taunted him in 7th grade would be back, but she said she had no idea about the boy's journal that he kept in his bedroom, in which he kept a hit list of students he wanted to kill and wrote thoughts about committing a Columbine-style attack at school.

The night before the shooting incident, she said her son was yelled at by his father for walking on some new tiles that had been installed in their home. The next afternoon, she said she began receiving text messages from other parents about a shooting incident at Socastee High School. Horry County Officer Erik Karney received gunpowder stippling injuries when the teen fired a shot that passed within inches of Karney's face.

She said she tried to reach her son and got no response that day, but the thought never crossed her mind that he would be involved in the shooting. She said when she found out her son had fired a shot at an officer, "I thought my life was over."

When asked by defense attorney Russell Long how she felt about Karney now, she said while choking back tears, "He is a hero and he saved my son." She said Karney couldn't realize that her son was worth saving.

Earlier in the day, a South Carolina Law Enforcement Agent said the teen made detailed plans for killing a number of students and others at Socastee High School.

Michael Prodan compiled a threat assessment on the teen for SLED. In court, he said the teen wrote in his diary about specific plans for performing a school shooting at his middle school and then carried those plans over to his high school. Prodan said the boy's journal contained references to dreaming of shooting up Socastee High School and killing 90 people.

According to Prodan, the boy's journal included references to "NBK", for Natural Born Killers, a movie that reportedly inspired Eric Klebold and Dyland Harris, the two students who committed the Columbine High School massacre in1999.

Prodan said he believed the teen was motivated by a desire for fame and recognition, not bullying as the teen's defense attorney has tried to prove.

Prodan said he believed the teen had intended to go on a Columbine-style killing spree on the day of the shooting.

"My opinion is that if it had not been for the actions of Officer Karney stopping the assault at that point, then all the indications are that (the teen) would have tried to kill as many people as possible."

Also testifying Wednesday, an intake manager with the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice. She told Judge Georgia Anderson the teen assaulted another juvenile while in detention and made up rap song lyrics boasting about the shooting.

Nancy Granchelli said the teen had been written up by authorities at the juvenile detention center in Columbia for disrupting classes and getting into fights. She read from a journal he wrote while in detention, in which he wrote rap songs with vulgar and violent lyrics.

But during questioning from defense attorney Russell Long, the social worker also read a lengthy letter the teen wrote to the Sun News, that he intended as an apology to the public.

In that letter, the teen wrote to friends and relatives asking them to "forgive me and not remember me for all the bad things I've done... I'm not a violent person at all."

In closing arguments Wednesday afternoon, defense attorney Russell Long told the judge, "This is a child. There's nothing adult-like about him."

But Assistant Solicitor Alicia Richardson said the shooting was premeditated and aggressive. She said the boy almost killed Officer Karney, and no one can predict if he would try it again.

Judge Anderson said she will take the case under advisement and issue her decision in two days.

Here's a link to our story covering the first day of the hearing.

Here's a link to day two's coverage.

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