Source: Alleged Arkansas shooter accused in molestation case
Reno to attend Jonesboro memorial service Tuesday
March 30, 1998
Web posted at: 10:51 p.m. EST (0351 GMT)
JONESBORO, Arkansas (CNN) -- The older of the two boys accused in last week's fatal school shooting also faces a juvenile court hearing in Minnesota over an unresolved sexual molestation accusation, a source close to the case told CNN.
Mitchell Johnson, 13, is facing a juvenile court proceeding in Minnesota sometime this summer, the source said. The accusation involves a 2-year-old girl.
Jonesboro is preparing for a Tuesday community memorial service for the five victims of the Westside Middle School shooting. President Clinton plans to address the service via videotape from Africa. Attorney General Janet Reno and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are scheduled to attend.
Other federal officials planning to attend are Secretary of
Education Richard Riley, James Lee Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Thomas McLarty, counselor to the president.
Lawyer seeks psychological tests
Johnson's attorney, Bill Howard, said Monday he wants his client and the other boy accused in the mass shooting, Andrew "Drew" Golden, 11, to be psychologically evaluated to determine if they knew what they were doing when they allegedly opened fire, killing four young girls and a teacher and wounding 10 others.
"We're not doing it to set up any defense per se. What we are doing is trying to find out if that has some relevance to this case," Howard said.
Also Monday, the parents of three high school girls slain in December in Paducah, Kentucky, sent a letter to the families of the Jonesboro victims. In the Kentucky case, a 14-year-old classmate is charged with opening fire on a group of students at a prayer meeting.
"If you ever need to talk, know that we are here. You are not alone in your suffering," said the letter, which was signed by the parents of 17-year-old Jessica James, 14-year-old Nicole Hadley and 15-year-old Kayce Steger.
Details of boys' pasts emerge
In the Arkansas case, more details of the boys' family backgrounds emerged Monday.
Johnson's parents divorced in Minnesota about a year after his natural father, now a long-distance truck driver, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for stealing meat from a grocery store where he worked, a former police chief said.
His mother later married a man who served time for drug and gun law violations at the federal prison facility in Rochester, Minnesota, where she worked. He is still in a supervised release program.
Golden was born during his mother's second marriage. According to Time magazine, Golden's mother had a tubal ligation reversed -- after having two children in her first marriage -- to provide an offspring for her second husband.
"That child (Drew) is the center of their world," Time quoted a close friend, Joyce Prater, as saying.
Trial could be ordered on restitution
The two boys are being held in the Craighead County Juvenile Detention Center and face an April 29 hearing. The two are charged as juveniles with five counts of murder and 10 counts of battery.
If the judge finds them delinquent, he can put them in the custody of Arkansas juvenile officials. Under Arkansas law, the two could be released on or before their 18th birthdays.
The judge could also order the boys and their guardians to pay restitution to the victims. If the judge finds that the restitution would be in excess of $10,000, a jury trial is ordered on the issue and the families could be found liable for medical bills, the costs of emergency services, and the cost of repairing the school.
Family friend calls Johnson 'troubled'
The former police chief of Grand Meadow, Minnesota, where Johnson lived before his parents' divorce, said the boy was "troubled" and often ran away from home.
Tom Hinze told CNN he had known Johnson's father, Scott, since childhood. As a result, the boy's parents would often come to him when their son disappeared.
On one occasion, Hinze initiated a search for the boy during a snowstorm, only to find the child hiding from his parents behind paneling in the home.
"I really question as to whether or not there could have been a way to foresee this coming," he said. "I am reading in the media that other kids had said that Mitchell might do something and teachers didn't believe it."
Hinze said Johnson's now-divorced natural parents had financial problems and marital disputes, but they usually showed concern for their son.
"There were several times that I went to the Johnson residence and noticed a handgun of some sorts either on the kitchen table, or ... on their dining room table," Hinze said.
"And I (told) Mrs. Johnson ... the guns should be locked in a secure place and not be accessible to the kids. She assured me that she discussed the weapon with ... the children in the home and they wouldn't touch the gun."
Classes resume at middle school
At Westside Middle School, classes resumed Monday. School officials said they would return to academics but added that counselors would be on hand to help students who needed them.
Many parents brought their children to school. Twenty-two students, or 9 percent of the student body, stayed home Monday. That percentage is better than the average attendance, according to school psychologist Betty Stockton.
Stockton said the mood was returning to normal at the school. She said she was "hearing laughter, hearing talking, seeing smiles."
She said one student was reluctant to get out of his family's car Monday morning and was immediately counseled.