WASECA, MINN. – The teen arrested for plotting a massacre at his local school will stay in Minnesota for evaluation and treatment during his probationary sentence, a judge ordered Wednesday as part of a revised agreement.
John LaDue, now 19, will remain in the Waseca County jail until a bed opens at a state facility where he can be evaluated. Attorneys indicated that could take at least two weeks.
After an evaluation of approximately 90 days, LaDue will likely be transferred to a state-run home with 24-hour staff and appropriate monitoring, attorneys said, while he undergoes treatment tailored to his unusual needs: autism spectrum disorder with a fixation on violence.
The new plan came after LaDue's anticipated placement in a Georgia facility specializing in such treatment fell through last month. That state declined to accept him because they could not supervise him while he lived in a secure facility, attorneys said.
"Plan A has now become impossible for us," Judge Joseph Chase said during a short hearing Wednesday afternoon, as he and attorneys outlined the revised agreement. While Minnesota does not have a facility like the one in Georgia, Chase added that county workers and attorneys in the case were trying to duplicate the original plan as much as possible.
After LaDue is evaluated, attorneys will review evaluators' recommendations and have the opportunity to address the court if they disagree with a treatment plan and placement.
County Attorney Brenda Miller described possible placement later as something along the lines of a home-type setting with 24-hour staff.
In court, LaDue, dressed in orange jail garb, said he understood the new sentencing arrangement and agreed with it.
"He's looking forward to the opportunity to get things going and get the treatment that he needs," defense attorney Stephen Ferrazzano said.
As part of an agreement for LaDue pleading guilty to one count of possessing an explosive device as a minor, the teen was sentenced in October to undergo an unspecified amount of treatment during a probation of up to 10 years.
Police found LaDue in a Waseca storage locker in late April 2014 after a citizen saw him enter it suspiciously. He told authorities of his detailed plans to shoot his family, set a fire in the countryside to distract emergency officials, and then go to school with pressure cooker bombs, firearms and ammunition to kill as many people as he could.
Authorities who searched the locker and the boy's bedroom had said they confiscated chemicals, several guns, ammunition and a few completed explosives.
LaDue had delayed his plans when he was found, but officers concluded that he intended to carry out the massacre within a week or two.
LaDue, 17 at the time, initially was charged as a juvenile with four counts of attempted murder, two counts of attempted first-degree damage to property and six counts of possession of a bomb by someone under 18. But the attempted-murder and attempted-property-damage charges were later dismissed, with a state Appeals Court panel affirming that it could not "invite speculation as to whether the acts would be carried out."
A district judge later certified LaDue as an adult, finding that doing so would "serve public safety and meet the needs of the child for treatment and rehabilitation."
In exchange for LaDue pleading guilty to one felony explosive possession charge, prosecutors agreed to drop the other five against him.
LaDue's parents have stood steadfastly by their son, saying that they don't believe he would have carried out the attacks and that he needed mental health help, not punishment.
Chase, meanwhile, has scheduled a Jan. 20 hearing to discuss any issues in getting LaDue into an evaluation facility.