The Ohio teenager accused of opening fire in a rural high school this winter, killing three and seriously injuring two others, filed a not guilty by reason of insanity plea this afternoon.
Thomas "TJ" Lane, 18, is scheduled to go to trial on Nov. 26 on charges of murder, attempted murder and assault in connection with the Feb. 27 shooting at Chardon High School, about 30 miles outside of Cleveland. To succeed at an insanity plea, Mr. Lane's lawyers must prove that the teenager did not know the difference between right and wrong at the time of the shootings.
Mr. Lane previously underwent mental evaluations to determine whether he was capable of understanding the charges against him. Those evaluations, conducted by Phillip Resnick, a Case Western Reserve University psychiatry professor, have no bearing on whether Mr. Lane can be found not guilty by reason of insanity, but they did provide an early snapshot of Mr. Lane's mental state.
Dr. Resnick testified during an earlier hearing in juvenile court that Mr. Lane, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, has a history of depression and shows signs of emotional blunting or flattening, meaning that he does not experience the same range of emotions most people do. He also said Mr. Lane has a history of auditory hallucinations -- although the doctor said he did not see evidence of them during an evaluation on April 2 and 3 -- and sometimes has "involuntary fantasies that intrude themselves on his mind."
Mr. Lane was arrested on the morning of Feb. 27, about an hour after local police and sheriff's deputies were called to Chardon High School for a report that someone had opened fire in the school's cafeteria, where several students, including Mr. Lane, were awaiting a ride to alternative schools.
Geauga County Sheriff's Deputy Jon Bilicic testified at a previous hearing that he found Mr. Lane sitting on the side of the road about a mile away from the school and that Mr. Lane confessed to the shooting.
Liz Navratil: email@example.com or 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.