A former Hardaway High student who shot his parents in April because they insisted he finish his chores was sentenced Thursday to up to five years in a state juvenile facility.
Neither the 15-year-old nor his attorney objected to the sentence recommendation of 48 to 60 months prosecutors made to Juvenile Court Judge Warner Kennon. The boy shot his stepmother, Kristi Lynn Askevich and his father Randal Stanley Askevich on April 12 at their Columbus home. Kennon ruled the offense a designated felony, as it would have been a felony were the offender an adult.
Court officials said the child suffers from the lingering trauma of childhood abuse that preceded his father's gaining custody, and needs the mental health care he will get in a state facility.
His father and stepmother briefly addressed Kennon during this morning's sentencing, expressing their shock at the shooting and their hope the boy will get extensive treatment to help him deal with his emotions.
"We've had struggles, but never did he show any violence," the stepmother said. The day of the shooting had been routine until the parents came home that evening, she said, recalling they "started reading the mail; next thing we know we were shot."
If the boy would do that to the people who love him most, "it scares me for what he would do to a stranger," she said. "It scares me for society."
She said she and her husband have tried to get the teen better care, even filing disability claims. "He needs the time and he needs someone to figure this out," she said.
The father said the couple "never thought in the world this would happen," and they hoped this would be a turning point toward the boy's recovery. "It took apparently this to get help for him," the father said, adding the couple prayed this would get him that help.
Said Kennon: "Thank you. We all share that prayer."
Asked what he wanted to say, the boy replied, "Nothing."
Kennon told the teen his previous juvenile offenses listed him only as a runaway and ungovernable. "The other programs that we've tried just have not worked," the judge said, telling the boy treatment in a state facility won't help him if he doesn't cooperate and try to help himself.
"You have got to control your emotions and keep them in check," Kennon told the teen.
Investigators have said the teenager opened fire on his parents because he was angry they insisted he do chores instead of looking up a Bible verse for a female friend who had told him she wanted to be “saved."
Columbus Police Detective Amanda Hogan said in a initial hearing that the boy felt his mission to find the right verse for his friend took priority over the list of chores his parents maintained for him, and when they insisted he stick to the list, his pent-up rage grew overnight and continued to build the next day at school.
So he went to his parents’ night stand where he knew they kept a 9mm pistol, took the gun and hid it in his room, Hogan said. When his parents got home from work that Friday, he first went to the bathroom, then stepped into his bedroom, got the gun, came out and opened fire, the officer said.
The youth's stepmother, 45, was shot through the right wrist, and a bullet lodged in her right abdomen, Hogan said. The father, 40, was hit in the right hip, Hogan said.
When police got the 5:54 p.m. call to the family’s Olde Towne Drive home, they were told the boy still had his parents at gunpoint, so officers did not go charging in, Hogan said. But then the father got the gun away from the teen, and the mother came outside to tell police what had happened, the detective said.
Hogan said the mother told police her son was on several medications, and the parents could not believe he had shot them.
Testimony in the initial hearing revealed the boy in 2011 had been through Juvenile Drug Court, a diversion program to guide minors away from drugs and crime.
The boy has been held without bond at the Youth Detention Center since his arrest. He was charged with two counts each of aggravated assault and possessing a firearm while under the age of 18.