1. Archive

Judge: Ga. teen should be tried as adult in shootings

Published Sep. 29, 2005

A 15-year-old boy accused of shooting six classmates at his high school should be tried as an adult, a judge ruled Wednesday, saying the crime was especially heinous because the boy allegedly was trying to copy the Columbine massacre.

Juvenile Court Judge William Schneider said society's need to prevent such shootings outweighs T.J. Solomon's interests.

He ordered the case transferred to Superior Court, where Solomon could face life in prison if convicted of aggravated assault and other charges. The maximum juvenile sentence would be 60 months.

Defense attorneys may appeal the ruling to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Solomon, a sophomore at Heritage High School, is accused of opening fire May 20 with two guns in the commons area of the school. Six students were injured, the most serious a 15-year-old girl who spent almost a week in the hospital with a wound to the abdomen.

The judge's ruling came at the end of the three-day hearing.

A state investigator testified during the hearing that Solomon left a note referring to the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., that left 15 dead on April 20, exactly a month before the shooting at Conyers.

Schneider made note of that in his decision.

"The fact that the child has attempted to copy a heinous, premeditated crime and showed such disrespect for the safety of others . . . makes the public's interest to treat him as an adult paramount to any interest of the individual child," he said.

Prosecutors said Solomon intended to hurt people and should be tried as an adult. Defense attorneys Don Samuel and Ed Garland argued that Solomon is mentally ill and should be committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Garland said Solomon has the maturity level of an 11-year-old.

"Children require special care, they require special treatment and they require special punishment," he said.

Michael Cheek, father of one of the victims, said he was pleased with Schneider's order.

"I think he made the right decision," he said. "(District Attorney) Richard (Read) said it properly. He sent a bullet through the hearts of this community and the entire country. Everybody's a loser with this one."