Reporting Alex DeMetrick
TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Too young and too ill. That’s the argument 15-year-old Robert Gladden Jr.’s lawyer is making to a judge in a bid to move the teen out of adult court and into the juvenile system.
Alex DeMetrick reports right now Gladden is charged as an adult in the August shooting at Perry Hall High School.
Robert Gladden Jr. had just turned 15 when he allegedly turned the first day of school at Perry Hall High into a nightmare.
“Him standing, holding the shotgun,” a student said. “That’s when people were screaming and running. It was just chaos getting out. It was really scary.”
Daniel Borowy, 17, was shot and severely injured in the attack. Borowy has Down syndrome. A guidance counselor and other school employees rushed the teen and wrestled the gun away.
Not long after his arrest, Gladden was charged as an adult with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder. Now in Baltimore County court, his lawyer is asking Gladden be sent to juvenile court.
“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.
Not disputing that Gladden fired the shot, his lawyer questioned a social worker and parole officer who studied Gladden’s background for court reports. 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.
But when the prosecution asked its questions, another portrait of the defendant emerged, including a history of multiple suspensions for fighting and unruly behavior. They said there were allegations that Gladden had bullied others–even sending a classmate an Internet death threat in the ninth grade. There were also 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.