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3-7-07

 
   

Amos gets 30 days shock time for making threat

Sean M. Amos

by Stacy Wiedmaier
Landmark reporter

A Platte City teenager was sentenced Thursday to 30 days of shock time in the Platte County Jail for threatening a school shooting to mark the anniversary of the Columbine High School attack.

Sean M. Amos, 18, received the sentence from Judge Lee Hull after a Feb. 13 trial in which he was found guilty of making a terroristic threat to use guns and explosives in an April 20, 2006, assault of Platte County R-3 High School in Platte City. That would have marked the seventh anniversary of the Columbine school shootings in Colorado.
Assistant prosecutor Eric Poggemiller opened the sentencing when he said the state has no new evidence, but wanted to make an argument.

“Mr. Amos was 17 at the time of this incident and he was old enough to know better,” he said. “He made an inappropriate statement in a post- Columbine era. The high school had to pay for extra security and bomb sniffing dogs, it disrupted the student’s day. Mr. Amos never said he was ‘just kidding,’ and we took him seriously.”

The state recommended Amos be required to serve a jail sentence followed by two years of probation. The court ordered special conditions of Amos’ probation requiring him to undergo psychiatric and drug screenings with treatment as directed, complete 100 hours of community service, not come within 1,000 feet of any property owned by Platte County R-3 School District, not attend any school event at any other location, not have any contact with any employees or board members of the school, not own, possess, or be around firearms, and obtain a GED or high school diploma.

“My client was in a closed environment with friends doing illegal substances when he made the statement,” said attorney Jeffrey Eastman. “He meant it as a joke when he said it. He has been in custody for 20 days already and served 300 days on electronic shackling. He has had no violations or any type of criminal history in the past”

Eastman said Amos is working at a restaurant and gave the judge a copy of a letter from his employer stating he is an excellent worker. Eastman requested the 20 days Amos has already spent in custody be counted towards the recommended 30 days in jail, but Hull denied this request.

Hull said he thought the state recommended 120 days of shock time was too long for the sentence of two misdemeanors, and reminded Amos that he won't "be getting his GED through Platte County R-3.”

“Have you been smoking dope since you were (found guilty)?” questioned Hull.

When Amos replied he had not, Hull said, “I will ask that question again and I want you to be truthful. You can be screened for drugs at any time during your probation and I expect you to make a change. I want to hear the test came back clean. I do recall the testimony at your trial, that you and your friends were stoned when you made this threat.”

Amos was convicted of making a terroristic threat and possession of marijuana, both misdemeanors, at a Feb. 13 trial.

During the trial, Craig Robinson, the principal of Platte County R-3 High School, testified that he learned on March 31, 2006, from a student that Amos and Trevor Fattig had threatened to conduct a “Columbine-type” incident on April 20. Robinson reported the threat to the Platte City Police Department immediately.

Police officers then interviewed five Platte County R-3 students who said Amos and Fattig told them they intended to bring weapons to school on April 20. Three of the students testified during the trial that, during a discussion of the Columbine shooting, Fattig and Amos told them they planned to plant explosives at the school and shoot an assistant principal and students.

Fattig’s case is set for a March 8 hearing.

“What happened at Columbine High School in April 1999 was an unforgettable event that will scar many people forever,” said Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd. “It’s alarming that this young man was so fascinated with that horrible massacre that he would consider acting out a similar attack.

"Given the tragic history of school shootings in this country, these threats cannot be taken lightly. With the help of a student who reported the danger and school administrators and police who took it seriously, we were able to stop this defendant before he had a chance to carry out his threat,” Zahnd added.

Hull granted Eastman’s request for his client’s jail time to begin within a 10 day period. Amos will report to the Platte County Jail the evening of March 12.

Zahnd said it was important that Amos spend some time behind bars to learn the seriousness of his threat. He also said the young man needs supervision and help within a drug treatment program.