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In re P.T.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District

September 9, 2013

IN THE MATTER OF: P.T.

APPEAL FROM CLINTON COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS JUVENILE DIVISION Case No.20122296

Holly Simpson, for appellant

Richard W. Moyer, Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney, for appellee

OPINION

M. POWELL, J.

(¶ 1} Appellant, P.T., appeals his adjudication as a delinquent child by the Clinton County Court of Common Pleas, Juvenile Division. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

(¶ 2} On the morning of Friday, December 14, 2012, 26 people, including 20 students, were shot and killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.[1] Later that same day, the Wilmington Police Department in Clinton County, Ohio received several reports regarding posts made by P.T., a 15-year-old Wilmington High School sophomore, on the social media website Facebook. The posts, which were in reference to the Sandy Hook shooting, included the following:

Kids were shot. Who cares? Dead kids are dead kids. Murder is a good thing.
This is a serious status. I really think murder is a good thing. It doesnt (sic) matter who is getting killed as long as there is killing. I have been saying for years now that there needs to be another mass murder, I have said this too (sic) many people. The fact they were kids just makes me laugh. I'd have done this job myself if I could have.
All forms of life are insignificant. Doesnt (sic) matter if they die today, tomorrow, or in 30 years. They are going to die. I might as well help them out.[2]

(¶ 3} In response to P.T.'s Facebook posts, another minor named Cory commented on P.T's Facebook account, stating that P.T. should watch his back because chances were someone would see P.T.'s post and "jump [his] ass." In response, P.T. posted a lengthy statement stating that he will "shit fury all over you and you will drown in it. You're fucking dead, kiddo."[3] It was later revealed that P.T. and Cory knew each other from playing an online video game together, the two had never met in person, and Cory never felt personally threatened by P.T.'s posts.

(¶ 4} After receiving reports relating to P.T.'s Facebook posts, police went to P.T.'s house and placed him under arrest for inducing panic in violation of R.C. 2917.31(A)(3) and aggravated menacing in violation of R.C. 2903.21(A). After P.T.'s arrest, a detention hearing was held wherein P.T. was ordered to remain in a secure facility until December 20, 2012, when he was released from the detention facility and sent home with an electronic monitoring unit. A psychological assessment of P.T. was ordered at the request of P.T.'s trial counsel, and the matter proceeded to a contested adjudicatory hearing on January 11, 2013.

(¶ 5} Chief Detective Josh Riley from the Wilmington Police Department testified at the hearing that he first came into contact with P.T. on December 14, 2012 after the police department received a report from Rebecca Bennett regarding P.T.'s Facebook posts. Detective Riley further testified that he received a call on his personal cell phone on that same day from Larry Roberts who had heard about the Facebook posts from his daughter. Roberts told Detective Riley that he was concerned about the posts and wanted to bring the situation to Detective Riley's attention. Detective Riley also testified that, in discussing the Facebook posts with P.T., P.T. "really just didn't care" and was not remorseful.

(¶ 6} Patrolmen Joshua Gibson of the Wilmington Police Department testified that he had received a call from Clinton Becker, from Florida, who had found P.T.'s Facebook posts when inspecting his daughter's Facebook page. As Becker's daughter attends Wilmington High School, Becker was concerned about the posts and called the police wanting to know what was being done about the situation.

(¶ 7} Bennett, a resident of Wilmington, testified that P.T.'s Facebook posts were brought to her attention by her children. After reading P.T.'s posts, Bennett decided that she should notify someone about these statements, "because [P.T.] does go to school with one of [her] kids." Bennett stated that she was concerned about the safety of her family and that she took P.T.'s posts ...


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