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Court Orders Boys Into Counseling After Failed Plot to Kill Classmate

December 12, 1991

SALINAS, Calif. (AP) _ Three teen-agers were ordered into counseling after leading a junior high school plot to kill a classmate bully. Their lawyers blamed peer pressure and media violence for the crime.

″They’re average kids,″ Deputy Public Defender Lorraine Faherty said. ″The real story is that kids today are learning too much violence in the media, on TV and in video games. Violence is commonplace and that’s the way they think they should deal with problems.″

The 13- and 14-year-old youths sentenced Wednesday were among 11 Walter Colton Junior High School students accused of being involved in the Oct. 21 plot in Monterey that grew out of a dispute between two student groups.

The three pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter. Most of the other accused youths, ages 11 to 14, face lesser charges of possession of a stolen gun.

One 13-year-old boy, who received the lightest discipline, was sentenced to 90 days in juvenile hall, to be followed by strict probation in which he would have to see a psychologist while living at home.

The two other boys, 13 and 14, were ordered into a boy’s camp or group home for an indeterminate length of time for discipline and counseling programs that can last from several months to years.

″We’re happy with the sentence because there is an emphasis on rehabilitation,″ said Anna Caballero, the court-appointed attorney for the 13-year-old boy who got a tougher sentence.

Caballero said the parents of the children were as shocked as the community to learn of the plot, but she thought it could happen anywhere.

″You’ve got a group of young boys who are good kids and who are facing peer pressure not to be the nerds and the geeks of the school,″ Caballero said. ″I think it’s happening around the country.″

The teen-agers, whose names can’t be released because of their age, could have been sent to the California Youth Authority until age 23.

When the three main defendants pleaded guilty, they told Superior Court Judge Robert O’Farrell the plot unfolded after the intended victim, a 15-year- old, threatened them.

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