GREENSBURG, PA. — A teen charged with stabbing 20 fellow students and a security guard at his high school must move from a juvenile detention center to the county jail when he turns 18, a judge ruled Thursday.
The decision by Westmoreland County Judge Christopher Feliciani came over the objections of the attorney for Alex Hribal, of Murrysville. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review first reported the ruling.
Hribal is charged as an adult in the April 2014 rampage at Franklin Regional High School. A hearing to determine whether the case will be moved to juvenile court won’t resume until November, but Hribal turns 18 on Oct. 1.
Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey had argued that “real and irreversible harm” could be done to Hribal’s mental health status if the slightly built boy is moved to the adult facility.
Thomassey acknowledges Hribal committed the attack using two 8-inch kitchen knives he brought from home that morning, but he contends Hribal was seriously mentally ill. The defense attorney still hopes to convince Feliciani that Hribal’s case belongs in juvenile court where, Thomassey contends, the boy can receive more suitable mental health treatment and other rehabilitation than he will in the adult system.
Hribal faces potentially decades in prison if he’s convicted as an adult of 20 counts each of attempted homicide and aggravated assault, as well as a school weapons violation. But if he’s moved to juvenile court, Hribal’s incarceration would end when he’s 21.
District Attorney John Peck has argued that the crimes are too serious to allow for that and that Hribal can receive help in the state prison system for whatever mental issues he may have. At Thursday’s hearing, Peck also argued that there’s no exception in the law that would let Hribal remain in the juvenile detention center after he’s 18, and the judge agreed.
Thomassey asked the judge to allow Hribal to post bond once he’s moved to the jail, but the judge said that’s “not appropriate.”
“He’s charged, at this point, as an adult,” the judge said. “They’re serious charges.”