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Girl, 14, gets probation for making e-mail threats

July 21, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A 14-year-old girl who made threats via e-mail last April using the name of one of the Colorado school shooters was placed on indefinite supervised probation Wednesday in Washington County Juvenile Court.

Calling herself "Eric Harris," the girl sent to friends several e-mail messages that implied Williamsport High School "is next," according to Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Mark Wolfe.

There were references to Hitler, a statement that "God is nowhere" and warnings to "sleep with one eye open," directed at the teens who received the electronic messages, Wolfe said as he read the text to Judge John H. McDowell.

Notified of the occurrences, Washington County Sheriff's deputies traced the e-mail to the girl's home. On April 25, the girl was questioned in the presence of her parents, Wolfe said.

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She said she sent four to six of the messages to "bug people, just as a joke," Wolfe said. She also admitted signing on as "Eric Harris."

A representative from the Washington County Board of Education said the girl's grades had been all A's and B's until she entered middle school and since then, they have been dropping steadily.

She had 15 absences during the 1998-99 school year including the days she was suspended for this incident.

The school board representative said the girl's school took the matter seriously but there was concern the family didn't.

"That is far from the truth," said attorney Lewis Metzner. "The parents were very concerned."

Metzner said that nothing happened in the school and yet she was suspended.

"There was an implied threat to a school," McDowell countered.

The girl wasn't a student at Williamsport High School.

"She told me this was a prank and I told her that was unacceptable," Metzner said. "She has finally gotten over that - this is a good family with a lot of problems."

McDowell said he believes those problems could have caused "these extraordinary actions of hers."

The girl was silent when it came her time to speak.

"You've written a letter saying you are remorseful," McDowell said. "This was immature and inappropriate and I hope you've learned a lesson."

The judge ordered the girl to continue therapy and to attend school regularly when it resumes in the fall.

Indefinite probation could continue until her 21st birthday.

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