The teenager accused of plotting to kill his family and set off bombs at his school will be charged as an adult.
John David LaDue, 18, will be moved from the juvenile facility where he is being held to Waseca County Jail until a hearing can be scheduled.
“Adult certification will serve public safety and meet the needs of the child for treatment and rehabilitation,” Waseca County District Court Judge Robert Birnbaum ruled on Friday.
LaDue was found in April 2014 with bomb-making materials, guns and a detailed notebook that laid out his massacre plans. He was 17. At one point he faced attempted murder charges, but a court dismissed those charges and other serious counts against him, finding that he hadn’t taken steps substantial enough to warrant them.
He still faces six charges of possessing explosive devices. If convicted as an adult on all six charges, he would face a guideline sentence of 60 months in prison, Waseca County Attorney Brenda Miller said.
Miller declined to comment on Friday’s certification order, and LaDue’s attorney, Dawn Johnson, did not respond to a request for comment.
Several factors play into whether a juvenile will face charges as an adult, including the seriousness of the offense, any prior record and the adequacy of punishment or services available in the juvenile justice system.
LaDue has multiple mental health diagnoses including Asperger syndrome. He’d be eligible for intervention and monitoring in the juvenile system until his 21st birthday — about 30 months from now.
Several experts, including three psychologists, agreed at a June 30 hearing that LaDue needs treatment, but were split on whether he poses enough of a threat to warrant prosecution as an adult. Two of the psychologists testified that LaDue needs more than 30 months of treatment.
After his arrest, LaDue was placed in a juvenile correction facility in Red Wing, Minn., where he received individual counseling. He’s since been moved to a facility in Willmar, Minn., where he’s participated in individual and group counseling.
LaDue has made some progress at the Willmar facility, the order said, although the programming there isn’t tailored to his particular needs.
According to the order, when asked about his participation in programming he said, “It doesn’t mean much. I have to endure it.”
His father, David LaDue, agreed, calling the therapy sessions “a joke.” “It would be like going to sex offender treatment because you’re a thief,” he said Friday.
Until his arrest in April, John LaDue didn’t have much of a record — just a citation for curfew violation and participation in a diversion program.
But when he was about 16, LaDue started formulating the plan to kill his parents and sister and set off bombs at Waseca junior and senior high schools.
According to the order, he admitted to setting off bombs around Waseca during that time. He also did a lot of research on school shootings, and said he spent about five hours a week watching videos of murders, autopsies and other violent content online.
“I certainly liked watching it, and I figured it would be better doing it,” he said.
Still, David LaDue said his son isn’t a threat. “He’s not going to hurt anybody,” he said. LaDue said that because of his work schedule and the Willmar facility’s hours, he hasn’t seen his son much lately. Once John LaDue is moved to Waseca County Jail, it will be easier to visit, David LaDue said.
According to the order, John LaDue has said he doesn’t feel close to his family, though his father said he suspects his son is putting up a tough front.
“I’m not pleased when they come and visit,” John LaDue said. “I don’t hate them, but I’m not giving them hugs.”