Vt. teen accused of plotting school shooting back in court

Published: Mar. 2, 2018 at 9:17 AM EST
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New details about the teen accused of plotting to shoot up a Vermont high school. Jack Sawyer of Poultney was in court again Friday morning. The 18-year-old faces charges that could put him behind bars for life. But the defense wants all those charges tossed.

In day two of Jack Sawyer's evidence hearing, Vt. State Police Sgt. Henry Alberico, the state's witness, again took the stand, detailing what he says happened during Sawyer's interview with police after his arrest.

In his interview and in a journal he kept for three months, Sawyer describes a detailed plan to attack Fair Haven Union High School, including taking out the school's armed security guard and killing as many people as possible.

"As quickly as I can pull the trigger is how many casualties," Sawyer said in the recording.

The state says the interview with police, written evidence in Sawyer's journal and purchasing a gun and ammunition is enough to charge the 18-year-old with four felonies, including first-degree attempted murder. If convicted, Sawyer would face a life sentence with no parole.

"He had every intention of following through," Alberico said.

But is intent strong enough evidence?

"The weight of evidence is not great in this case," defense lawyer Kelly Green said.

Green says it's not strong enough and all the charges against Sawyer should be dropped.

"What he did was prepare for an attempt. He didn't actually attempt. That's a big difference," Green said.

Green points to Sawyer's struggle with mental health issues and that he had stopped taking his medications. She also says on Feb. 11, Sawyer allegedly sent messages to a friend stating he was no longer planning to go through with the attack. Green says her client's change in heart and attempt to get a job and apartment shows he was trying to "manage."

Prosecutors point out that later in text messages to the same friend-- and in his interview with them-- Sawyer told a different story.

State's Attorney Rosemary Kennedy: Did he tell you the reason to why he got that job?

Sgt. Henry Alberico: To save money to fulfill his wish list or his items needed to fulfill his plan.

Rosemary Kennedy: To buy guns?

Sgt. Henry Alberico: Correct.

In the courtroom sat Brittany Cavacas, a daughter of two Fair Haven High School employees.

"To have the defense say that there is nothing there... we know that there is something there and we need to protect our kids," Cavacas said.

Green said that she plans to file a motion Monday to dismiss all charges.