Judge hears arguments on trying alleged school shooter as adult

JOPLIN, Mo. | A Jasper County judge says he’s inclined to allow a boy accused of firing an assault rifle at his middle school to be tried as an adult.

Thomas White, 14, is charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree assault and one count each of unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action. Jasper County Circuit Judge David Mouton heard arguments Friday on a motion by White’s attorneys to send the case back to juvenile court.

Mouton did not rule, saying he wants to read a particular case cited by White’s attorneys and give them time to file additional arguments.

Circuit Judge William Crawford certified White to stand trial as an adult in December.

White, who was 13 at the time of the Oct. 9 shooting, also is charged with attempting to escape from the Joplin juvenile detention center two days after the shooting in which no one was injured.

He is one of the youngest offenders ever to be certified as an adult in the state.

At issue is a 1995 change in state law that lowered the minimum age of juveniles for certification to stand trial as adults from 14 to 12.

“As I’ve indicated, the court is not convinced by any of the arguments that the statute passed by the Missouri Legislature is unconstitutional,” Mouton said at Friday’s hearing, adding that he does not think it is his job as a trial judge to rule on the constitutionality of lawmakers’ decisions.

Mouton set a July 6 deadline for any further written arguments. He said he would make his decision soon after that.