Prosecutor urges court to restore attempted murder charges against Waseca teen

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A Minnesota appeals court panel is considering whether to restore attempted murder charges against a Waseca teenager who allegedly planned to kill his family and bomb his school.

In arguments before the judges Wednesday, Waseca County Attorney Brenda Miller maintained 17-year-old John LaDue had not only envisioned an attack on the junior and senior high school buildings, but had collected explosives and refined his bomb-making skills, FOX 9 reports.

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 – ruling that LaDue's thoughts and plans did not amount to an attempt to carry out the deadly attack. That's what Miller urged the appeals panel to reverse.

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The Waseca County News reports one of the appeals court judges commented that Miller was asking the court to criminalize intent and preparation. At another point, the newspaper says, Miller remarked: "I'm not asking you to punish someone for their thoughts, but for nine months of planning."

The Mankato Free Press says Miller argued that an appeals court ruling could help clarify a legal standard for where preparations cross into actions under Minnesota law.

KSTP reports Miller also argued that LaDue had made and detonated 35-to-40 bombs as he experimented with different explosives and refined his bomb-making skills.

LaDue still faces six criminal counts related to possession of explosives.

FOX reports LaDue's attorney argued for upholding the lower court ruling, saying the teen would not get the mental health care he needs if he were serving a lengthy prison sentence.

LaDue's father tells MPR News the family thinks authorities are pushing the case against his son too far.

Reports say the appeals court panel has up to 90 days to issue a ruling.

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