The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

June 26, 2009

Joplin teen pleads guilty

By Derek Spellman

A Joplin teen who fired an assault rifle in Memorial Middle School and then aimed it at an administrator more than two years ago pleaded guilty to a pair of assault charges Friday.

Thomas White will be considered for the state’s dual jurisdiction program as part of a pending plea agreement with the Jasper County prosecutor. Also under the pending agreement, the 16-year-old White pleaded guilty to a companion charge of armed-criminal action, while two remaining felony charges would be dismissed.

Circuit Judge David Mouton on Friday said he would defer a final decision on the plea agreement until White’s sentencing hearing. White had previously been certified to stand trial as an adult.

White was charged with five felony counts after discharging an assault rifle inside Memorial Middle School on Oct. 9, 2006.

White, who was 13 at the time of the incident, is accused of firing the rifle once into the ceiling of a school hallway, pointing the weapon at an assistant superintendent and the school principal, and attempting to shoot the latter.

Police say the gun jammed after the firing of a single round into the ceiling because of an improperly seated ammunition clip. The school principal later ushered him out of the building.

White was to undergo a competency hearing Friday to explore whether he was mentally competent to assist in his own defense. A state psychiatrist evaluated White earlier this year and found him mentally incompetent to do so, prompting the Jasper County prosecutor to seek a second opinion.

But White, via his new defense attorney, Steven Hays, on Friday agreed that he had the capacity to understand the proceedings against him and assist in his own defense. He entered his guilty pleas shortly afterward while his mother, Norma White, looked on in the courtroom.

Text Only
Joplin Metro

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that electronic devices and communications are protected from searches and seizure without a warrant, do you think Missouri needs Amendment 9 added to its constitution?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
NDN Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating