Reporting Alex DeMetrick
TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — A Maryland high school sophomore accused of shooting a disabled classmate on the first day of the school year is in court.
Alex DeMetrick reports two very different portraits are emerging of the teen.
Attorneys for Robert Gladden, 15, are arguing that his case should be transferred to juvenile court. Gladden has been charged as an adult with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder.
“This is not Columbine. Not Newtown. This is a young man who made a horrible mistake. Bobby is immature. Bobby is sick. Bobby has a mental illness. The kid belongs in the Department of Juvenile Services. To throw away this young man’s life by throwing him into the adult system would be a real tragedy. He won’t make it a week in the Department of Corrections,” said defense lawyer George Psoras.
The shooting occurred Aug. 27 at Perry Hall High School in Baltimore County. Prosecutors say Gladden fired a shotgun at random at a lunch table where several students were sitting.
Daniel Borowy, 17, was wounded. Borowy has Down syndrome. A guidance counselor and other school employees rushed the teen and wrestled the gun away.
Gladden’s attorney has said the charges are excessive and that the teen did not intend to shoot anyone.
He pointed out traumatic incidents like his parents’ divorce and the suicide of an uncle, which led to depression and self-mutilation known as cutting. As early as 10 years old, he reportedly had suicidal impulses and episodes where he was bullied at school.
The first defense witness Danni Davis is a social worker for the Department of Juvenile Services. She testified that after researching Gladden, she is recommending he be placed in a secure mental facility for treatment.
But another defense witness, a probation officer, testified under prosecution questioning that Gladden had a long history of suspensions in middle and high school for fighting and unruly behavior.
She testified there were allegations Gladden bullied others and posted death threats to another classmate in the ninth grade.
She also said when Gladden was taken to Spring Grove Hospital he was reported being “manipulative and disruptive” and teased vulnerable peers. Authorities have questions about how receptive he is to mental health treatment.
More testimony is expected Thursday.
Unless the judge rules Robert Gladden Jr. should go to juvenile court, he is currently set to go on trial in adult court next month