Dismissal of attempted murder charges in Waseca bomb plot case upheld

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Prosecutors' attempts to get attempted murder charges reinstated against the teenager accused of plotting to bomb a school were once again denied.

On Monday, the Minnesota Court of Appeals denied the Waseca County prosecutors' requests to overturn the dismissal of the most serious charges against the teenager.

Jon LaDue, now 18, was charged last year after authorities found explosives in a storage shed he was using and a 180-page notebook outlining a plot to shoot his family members and detonate homemade bombs at the school.

But last summer a judge threw out the most serious charges – four counts of attempted murder and two counts of attempted damage to property.

The prosecutors appealed the district court's decision, saying the steps LaDue had taken were enough to show violent intent. But the Court of Appeals disagreed, siding with the district court. (Click here to read the full ruling.)

LaDue is still facing six counts of possessing explosives.

What is the reasoning?

What the decision came down to was, essentially, whether LaDue actually took steps to commit the crimes he's accused of.

In Minnesota, charges of attempted murder mean the suspect must have done something that is considered a "substantial step toward, and more than preparation for," committing a crime.

The district court said LaDaue didn't ever go that far.

He didn't "brandish, point or shoot a firearm" at potential victims; he did not openly threaten or express hatred toward them; he didn't bring any of the weapons or explosives to school, nor did he "reschedule a day" to carry out the attacks.

"While [LaDue] planned for at least nine months, he did not engage in anything more than preparation for the commission of the crime. The law does not prohibit [his] conduct," the opinion says. "We cannot invite speculation as to whether the acts would be carried out. At present, our attempt laws reach no further."

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