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Mental health treatment sought for Franklin Regional stabbing suspect

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By Rich Cholodofsky and Renatta Signorini
Friday, June 27, 2014, 4:00 p.m.
 

The attorney for the teenager accused of randomly stabbing and slashing 20 classmates and a security guard in Franklin Regional High School says the boy's mental condition is deteriorating and he needs to be transferred to a treatment facility.

Alex Hribal, 16, is charged as an adult with attempted homicide. He has been held without bond in Westmoreland County's juvenile detention facility in Hempfield since the April 9 rampage.

Attorney Patrick Thomassey filed a petition on Friday asking Westmoreland County Judge Richard McCormick Jr. to hold a hearing on his request that Hribal receive in-patient mental health treatment in Adelphoi Village, a secure facility in Derry Township, at taxpayers expense.

“... Given his flat affect, his inability to relate, his impaired judgement, his episodic suicidal ideation, his sense of hopelessness and helplessness, he does not demonstrate the capacity to cooperate with his attorney,” Thomassey wrote about Hribal, referring to a report from psychiatrist Christine Martone.

Thomassey could not be reached late Friday afternoon. A hearing has not been scheduled.

The petition said Dr. Martone examined Hribal on May 14 and diagnosed a depressive disorder, schizophrenia and an acne problem.

District Attorney John Peck said on Friday afternoon he not seen the request.

“I'll have to study the motion to see what his claims are and make a decision” on whether to oppose it, Peck said.

The requested hearing would be Hribal's first public appearance since his preliminary arraignment on the evening of April 9.

Police contend that Hribal slashed and stabbed his way down a school hallway with two kitchen knives before classes began, critically wounding four students. Police said Hribal refused to surrender the knives when Assistant Principal Sam King confronted and finally subdued him.

On June 2, Thomassey waived Hribal's right to a preliminary hearing and nine days later waived his scheduled July 23 formal arraignment, or a reading of the charges. Hribal has entered a not guilty plea on 21 counts of attempted homicide and aggravated assault and a single count of possession of a weapon on school property.

Martone said Hribal “demonstrated a factual as well as rational understanding of the charges against him.”

Thomassey has said he plans to make a bid to have the case tried in juvenile court. Thomassey indicated in Friday's filing that Martone and Dr. Bruce Chambers of Cranberry would be willing to testify at the hearing to address Hribal's transfer.

Chambers was authorized on April 11 to visit Hribal for a psychological evaluation. Chambers agrees with Martone's assessment of the defendant, Thomassey said in the motion.

Police have not discussed a motive for the attacks. Thomassey has suggested Hribal was bullied.

Police found a handwritten note in Hribal's locker dated three days before the attack that expressed dissatisfaction with school and society and his plans to hurt his classmates, according to court papers. The note was titled “RAGNAROK,” which is the name for a final battle preceding the end of the world in Norse mythology.

Renatta Signorini and Rich Cholodofsky are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Signorini can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com. Cholodofsky can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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