MURRYSVILLE (AP) – A preliminary hearing was postponed again for a 16-year-old boy charged with wounding 20 students and a security guard during a rampage with two 8-inch kitchen knives at a Western Pennsylvania high school last month.
A district judge first set an April 30 hearing for Alex Hribal of Murrsyville, who initially was charged with four counts of attempted homicide, 21 counts of aggravated assault and a weapons charge stemming from the April 9 attack at Franklin Regional High School.
Hribal’s defense attorney asked the hearing be postponed until May 9 once Westmoreland County prosecutors added 17 extra attempted homicide charges late last month after allegedly finding a note in Hribal’s locker indicating he hoped to kill the students.
“I can’t wait to see the priceless and helpless looks on the faces of the students of one of the ‘best schools in Pennsylvania’ realize their precious lives are going to be taken by the only one among them that isn’t a plebeian,” the note read, according to the amended criminal complaint.
Court records indicate the hearing that was rescheduled for Friday was pushed back to June 4, again at the request of defense attorney Patrick Thomassey.
The reason for the postponement wasn’t immediately clear.
Thomassey previously told the Associated Press he plans to waive the hearing, which will determine whether Hribal stands trial.
Prosecutors need to prove only that they have probable cause for the charges.
Thomassey acknowledged the boy stabbed the others with two knives he sneaked into school, though he has suggested that unspecified bullying may have prompted the attack.
Prosecutors must prove Hribal had a specific intent to kill for each of the attempted homicide charges.
Murrysville police Chief Thomas Seefeld said police were investigating claims of bullying but have yet to find concrete evidence of it.
Thomassey did not immediately return messages Monday and District Attorney John Peck declined to comment on the postponement.
Hribal is in a juvenile detention center even though he remains charged as an adult because attempted homicide charges can’t be filed in juvenile court in Pennsylvania. Such charges can be moved to juvenile court, however, which Thomassey said he’ll ask a judge to consider after the preliminary hearing.
If tried and convicted as an adult, Hribal faces decades in prison. If the case is moved to juvenile court, he could be supervised or on probation until he’s 21.
On Monday, the school in the relatively affluent Pittsburgh bedroom community gave out clear plastic backpacks to help students feel safer.
The bags were donated by a local car dealership.
Two stabbing victims remained in Forbes Regional Medical Center.
One was in fair condition while the other, who had been in fair condition, was moved into an intensive care unit over the weekend. A hospital spokesman could not immediately provide additional information on his condition.