WASECA, Minn. – John LaDue will not be going to a secure treatment facility near Atlanta as originally planned, his defense attorney said Friday.
The state of Georgia has declined to accept supervision of LaDue during his probation for "bureaucratic" reasons, said Jeff Johnson, chief public defender for the state's Third Judicial District.
Officials hope to have a new plan figured out for LaDue by a hearing scheduled for Jan. 6, Johnson said.
LaDue, accused of planning a massacre at his school, was back in court Friday morning because of the switch. Attorneys spoke in judge's chambers for an hour before coming into the courtroom and, in one minute, agreeing to continue the hearing until Jan. 6.
Johnson said afterward that Georgia's declining to take over supervision of LaDue "had nothing to do with John himself."
LaDue has been "more than cooperative with anything that has been asked of him" during the judicial process, Johnson said. "I think that speaks volumes to John."
Johnson said he's had declinations happen in other cases during his 20-some years of defense work. "We are looking at what we can do that is the best for John and the best for the community," he said.
LaDue, who turns 19 on Saturday, will remain in the Waseca County jail, where he has been awaiting transfer to Georgia. As part of his plea agreement, he was to undergo treatment for his autism spectrum disorder and fixation on violence for an unspecified amount of time during his probation up to 10 years.
LaDue pleaded guilty to one count of possessing an explosive device as a minor, referring to what his attorney later described as a small "cricket" explosive. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to drop five remaining similar counts against him.
Police found him in a Waseca storage locker in late April 2014. Then 17, LaDue 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 LaDue's bedroom had said they confiscated chemicals, several guns, ammunition and a few completed explosives.
While he had already delayed his plans when he was found, officers concluded that LaDue had intended to carry out the massacre within a week or two.
LaDue 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. The attempted-murder and attempted-property-damage charges were later dismissed. A state Appeals Court panel said 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."
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. LaDue's father, David LaDue, said after the hearing that he still has a lot of questions about the process of determining what's best for his son. He was glad to learn that his son wouldn't be going to Georgia, he said.
"I'd rather have him close than far," he said. "I'd like to be able to see him."