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Preliminary hearing for Franklin Regional stabbing suspect postponed

| Monday, May 5, 2014, 10:21 a.m.
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All 1,240 Franklin Regional Senior High School students received small, clear bags with a district logo on Monday, May 5, 2014, to carry clothes for gym class, cords for their electronic devices and other items. #1 Cochran car dealership donated about 2,000 bags, enough for the district to save any extras for next year's freshman class.

The preliminary hearing for a Franklin Regional Senior High School sophomore accused of trying to kill 20 classmates and a school security guard in a stabbing rampage last month has been delayed for a second time.

At the request of defense attorney Pat Thomassey, the preliminary hearing for 16-year-old Alex Hribal was moved from Friday to 9 a.m. June 4 before Export District Judge Charles Conway in the Westmoreland County Courthouse.

“We have mental health people involved with Alex, and there's no hurry. He's not going anywhere,” Thomassey said.

Although Hribal is charged as an adult, he has been held in the county's juvenile detention center since his arrest on April 9, shortly after, investigators said, he ran down school hallways with two 8-inch kitchen knives, randomly slashing students.

Two students remain at Forbes Hospital in Monroe-ville in fair condition — Connor Warwick, 16, and Greg Keener, 15, who was moved back into an intensive care unit during the weekend for additional monitoring.

The defense previously indicated it would waive Hribal's right to a hearing, but Thomassey said plans may have changed since prosecutors late last month filed a new complaint to include 21 charges of attempted homicide.

District Attorney John Peck said all 21 victims could be called to testify at the preliminary hearing. He said security video from the school at the time of the stabbings will not be played in court next month.

With the criminal case against Hribal on hold for now, Franklin Regional administrators took steps to increase transparency by distributing plastic backpacks to more than 1,200 high school students for use during the school day.

The clear backpacks with black trim arrived at the high school on Monday as a donation from the #1 Cochran auto dealership in Monroeville.

High school students have long been barred from carrying backpacks in the hallways during classes, assistant superintendent Mary Catherine Reljac said.

The clear backpacks — labeled FR Strong — will replace small drawstring bags that students previously were permitted to carry for items such as gym clothes or cords for their electronic devices, she said.

“We're sensitive to helping people feel safe and secure,” Reljac said last week when the donation was announced.

Staff writer Renatta Signorini contributed. Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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