With Most Serious Charges Dismissed, Waseca Teen to Appear in Court

Updated: 07/30/2014 7:34 AM KSTP.com By: Stephen Tellier

The case against a Waseca teen garnered national attention. John LaDue, 17, was accused of a Columbine-style attack plot this spring.

But some of the charges against him have now been thrown out.

One attorney told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the case has done a complete 180 in the past 24 hours.

The case shocked a community; LaDue was accused of stockpiling bombs, firearms, and ammunition, and keeping a journal detailing a plot to murder his family and classmates.

The teen had been facing four counts of attempted murder and two counts of attempted damage to property. But on Monday, a judge tossed those charges out, leaving only six counts of possession of explosive devices.

"This is a groundbreaking decision. This is a game changer," said Christa Groshek, a criminal defense attorney not connected to the case. "I think that this judge was spot on when it comes to applying the law to the facts of this case."

Legally, attempted murder means a defendant took a "substantial step" toward committing the crime in question. The judge reasoned LaDue never verbally or physically threatened anyone, didn't take the bombs or guns to school, and didn't have an exact date in mind for carrying out the potential massacre.

"He did a lot of thinking. He did a lot of daydreaming about it. He did a lot of fantasizing about it. But he didn't take an overt act," Groshek said. "His father was very clear to say, 'Look, I didn't know my kid was this troubled, but I don't think he'd ever do it -- I don't think he'd ever really hurt anybody.'"

Groshek said the big question in this case now is the one that will be tackled in court on Wednesday morning: Should LaDue still be tried as an adult or as a juvenile? If he's tried as an adult and convicted on all counts, he could face up to 5 1/2 years in prison. If he's tried as a juvenile, he could end up with just a few years of probation.