Fourteen-year-old Barry Loukaitis stormed his eighth grade algebra class, killed two students and a teacher, and wounded a third student. He was convicted in a jury trial of aggravated murder, assault and kidnapping, and he was sentenced to life without parole. On appeal he challenges the juvenile court’s decision to decline jurisdiction and contends he is entitled to reversal due to the prosecutor’s conflicts of interest, the admission of his post-arrest statements, and the admission of other prejudicial evidence. He also assigns error to the trial court’s orders amending the information and to his sentence.
On Friday, February 2, 1996 , Frontier Junior High School in Moses Lake started two hours late due to intense cold weather. All classes were shortened to make up for the delay. Mr. Loukaitis did not attend morning classes. Instead, he armed himself with his father’s 30/30 lever-action rifle, a .22 revolver and a .25 semiautomatic pistol. All three guns were loaded. He strapped to his chest and waist three belts of additional ammunition and packed a speed loader for the revolver. Over this arsenal he wore a long black trench coat with the inside pocket removed so that he could carry the rifle unseen. Thus armed, he walked to school. Outside his fifth period algebra class, Mr. Loukaitis cocked the lever action rifle.He then stepped into the room, shot Manuel Vela almost point blank, and then shot Arnold Fritz and Natalie Hintz as they tried to drop to the floor beside their desks. When the teacher, Leona Caires, exclaimed, “No, no,” Mr. Loukaitis turned and shot her in the back as she tried to hide behind her desk. Mr. Vela and Ms. Caires died almostinstantly. Mr. Fritz, shot through the chest, stood up and walked to the back of the classroom, then lay on the floor and struggled to breathe. Ms. Hintz, injured in the arm and chest, fell to the floor and began to scream.Mr. Loukaitis backed into a corner of the room blocked from the windows and door. The school physical education teacher, Jonathon Lane , heard the gunshots and ran into the classroom. When he saw Mr. Loukaitis holding the rifle, Mr. Lane dived behind the teacher’s desk. Mr. Loukaitis told him to stand up or he would shoot another student. Mr. Lane stood up and then asked Mr. Loukaitis if Ms. Hintz could be removed from the room. Eventually, Mr. Loukaitis allowed Mr. Lane to help Ms. Hintz out the door and later let out a diabetic girl having blood sugar problems. When a student called out that Mr. Fritz was in bad shape, Mr. Loukaitis said something like, “Just let him die,” but then allowed Mr. Lane and two other students to drag Mr. Fritz out of the room.By this time, the police had been summoned and were attempting to talk with Mr. Loukaitis through the door. Mr. Loukaitis calmly began to organize the class. He read off the class roll and told the students one by one to arrange themselves in seats at the back of the room. He seemed irritated by the police interruptions, yelled that he would start killing people if the officers did not shut up, and threw the telephone to the floor when the police called. At one point he told the class, “This sure beats the hell out of algebra, doesn’t it?".After the class was organized, Mr. Loukaitis said he needed a hostage because of snipers. He then pulled out a black plastic bag, fixed it over the end of the rifle muzzle with rubber bands, and told Mr. Lane to put it in his mouth. Mr. Lane resisted. With repeated urging, he pretended to comply, grabbed the gun barrel, pinned Mr. Loukaitis against the wall, and yelled for the students to run.As the students rushed out of the room, the police pushed through them and tackled Mr. Loukaitis. The officers handcuffed Mr. Loukaitis, removed his guns and ammunition, read him his rights and took him to the station. In a later search of the scene, they discovered earplugs Mr. Loukaitis had worn during the shootings. After giving a taped interview to the police, Mr. Loukaitis went to his cell, curled up on his bunk, and fell asleep with a blanket over his head. Mr. Fritz died later that day at the hospital. Ms. Hintz underwent extensive surgery and survived, although she almost lost her arm and remains impaired. (X)
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