CONYERS, Ga. -- A judge hearing the case of a boy accused of shooting and wounding six high school classmates accepted his plea Wednesday of "guilty but mentally ill" rather than "guilty."
T.J. Solomon had entered both pleas in admitting to the May 20, 1999, shootings. No one was killed in the attack at Heritage High School and witnesses said Solomon appeared to aim below the waist. He was 15 at the time.
Psychiatrist Dave Davis, who examined Solomon, testified Wednesday that the boy suffered from a personality disorder that caused him to be obsessed with violence and fantasize about copying the Columbine High shooting. He said Solomon had few feelings for others and had fantasies of storming his school with guns and having control over other people.
Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation accepted the guilty but mentally ill plea after hearing from Davis, four of Solomon's victims, his mother, grandmother and three others.
The hearing was designed to help the judge decide if there were mitigating circumstances in favor of the guilty but mentally ill declaration. Under that plea, Solomon is still likely to be sentenced to time in prison but he would receive psychiatric treatment, possibly in a mental institution.
More arguments were scheduled Thursday on the sentencing recommendation. The judge did not say when he would impose a sentence.
Solomon's mother, Mae Dean Daniele, said her son was an obedient, gentle-hearted boy, and claimed the family's abandonment by the boy's father when Solomon was four may have caused emotional problems.
"He is a very confused young man. He really doesn't know why," she said. "T.J. has been very depressed. I'm not so sure it doesn't go back to when he was 4 years old."
Stephanie Laster, who was shot in the buttocks, testified that the bullet left six perforations in her intestines and a "long, ugly scar" on her abdomen. Since the shooting, she said, her mother has suffered panic attacks and her father is medicated for depression.
Prosecutor Richard Read said he would not dispute that Solomon suffers from some degree of depression, but he said he will challenge the degree and severity.
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