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Lawyer: Stabbing suspect like 'deer in headlights'

PITTSBURGH — The 16-year-old boy accused of stabbing 22 people at his high school was dazed "like a deer in the headlights" hours later and doesn't fully grasp what he did, his attorney said Thursday as he sketched out the beginnings of a possible mental health defense.

Deepening the mystery of what set off the violence, attorney Patrick Thomassey said Alex Hribal had no history of mental illness or troublemaking, didn't abuse drugs, has attentive parents and was no outcast at school, where he was described as a B or B-plus student.

Authorities seized the family's computer as they searched for clues to Wednesday's rampage at Franklin Regional High, about 15 miles from Pittsburgh. Authorities said Hribal armed himself with two kitchen knives and stabbed 21 students and a security guard before an assistant principal tackled him.

The slender, dark-haired boy was jailed without bail on four counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault. Authorities are prosecuting him as an adult, but Thomassey said he will try to have the case moved to juvenile court.

He said he plans to get his client examined by a psychiatrist before a preliminary hearing April 30.

"I think his mental state now is unstable. I'm not sure that he recognizes the enormity, if that's the word, of what has occurred," Thomassey said. "And I think in his own mind he's trying to figure out what happened here, as we all are trying to figure out what the heck happened here."

Ten boys remained hospitalized, three in critical condition.

Police and doctors said one victim, a 17-year-old whose name was not released, had surgery again overnight and was in very critical condition after suffering a knife thrust that pierced his liver and missed his heart and aorta by fractions of an inch.

Lawyer: Stabbing suspect like 'deer in headlights' 04/10/14 [Last modified: Thursday, April 10, 2014 10:55pm]
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