Connecticut high school stabbing suspect appears in court

Marcus Solis with the report from Milford, CT. (WABC)
May 2, 2014 8:05:32 PM PDT
The teenager charged in the fatal stabbing of a Connecticut high school student made his first public court appearance Friday.

The 16-year-old defendant, Christopher Plaskon, appeared in Milford Superior Court and was ordered to return for a probable cause hearing on June 4. He will not enter a plea until after the hearing.

Plaskon has been charged with murder as an adult in the slaying of Maren Sanchez, a friend who was killed last week in a hallway at Jonathan Law High School in Milford.

At Friday's hearing, Plaskon's lawyer said his client is showing signs of an active psychosis.

Plaskon was ordered transferred to the state's Manson Youth Institution in Cheshire, where lawyer Richard Meehan asked that he be placed under a suicide watch.

A wake for Sanchez Thursday drew a large turnout. Hundreds of people came to show their respects, with many wearing purple, Sanchez's favorite color.

No funeral service is planned at this time.

In court papers, Plaskon allegedly told police immediately afterward, "I did it, just arrest me." The investigation continues, with one of the theories being explored whether the attack occured because Sanchez rejected Plaskon's invitation to the prom. The motive and the suspect's age matter little, says the prosecutor.

Plaskon showed no visible emotion during the brief hearing. He had handcuffs and leg shackles and no shoes as he stood next to his attorneys and his uncle Paul Healy, who was appointed his guardian.

His attorney, Richard Meehan, did not provide details of Plaskon's condition, but he did say the boy understands he's charged with murder and that Meehan is his attorney.

"I do believe he's sick," Meehan said, noting Plaskon had been under an emergency commitment and will continue to receive psychiatric care. "Obviously what we don't want to see another tragedy on top of the one that has already taken place here. We want to make sure that this young man is appropriately maintained while we do our job."

Meehan said Plaskon's parents wanted to attend the hearing, but he recommended against it because he believed it would be too difficult. He said they are in seclusion.

"All their hearts are broken," Meehan said, referring to Plaskon's family. "I think the word numb is probably the best word I could use to describe what these people are going through"

On Tuesday night, Sanchez's boyfriend, Jarrod Butts, and his pastor, Michael Bulkley, were among several dozen grieving friends who attended the film "Heaven is for Real," a story based on a little boy's near-death experience.

"I've heard from many that it has helped," Bulkley said.

Sanchez's friend Madison Rauscher said that it helped get their minds off of the tragedy. "It was a hard day today and everyone's really drained, so it's nice to get out somewhere."

Meanwhile, court documents say Plaskon confessed to the killing after it happened. A court filing says a blood-covered Plaskon told a police officer after the attack, "I did it. Just arrest me."

His parents issued a statement to the media:

"Words can only fall short in conveying the depth and breadth of the raw sadness we are left with by this unimaginable tragedy. Our hearts are forever broken as we, like you, struggle to understand.

To the Sanchez family,our deepest sympathies. Please know that you are now, and forever, in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers. We join with the entire Milford community to celebrate the life and mourn the loss of this most vibrant and exceptional young woman.

To our extended family, friends and neighbors and all who have reached out to us in our darkest hour with warmth, kindness, understanding and compassion, you cannot know how much it has meant to us. Thank you.

In prayer we ask for comfort for the Sanchez family and all of us so deeply affected by this tragedy. We pray for the wisdom to guide us as we desperately try to pull together the shattered pieces of our families. And finally, we pray that time may soften our wounds and reveal forgiveness in the hearts of all."

A community-wide candlelight vigil was held Monday night on the football field, where Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called Maren a star, saying she was inclusive, kind, talented and giving. He said she accomplished so much in a short period of time and affected so many.

"She was someone who moved people," Malloy said. "If you look at this crowd, you might even imagine she moved mountains."

"It's just really heartbreaking to see something Iike this happen in your hometown, especially to a place you loved," said Amanda Awwad, 19, of Milford, who graduated from the school two years ago and dropped off flowers at a memorial in front of the school Monday.

Sanchez was an athlete and honors student, and vigil organizers hoped to raise enough money to purchase a memorial bench in her honor.

Connecticut's chief medical examiner said she died of wounds to her torso and neck.

It has been a devastating incident for the entire community.

Plaskon is described as an athlete and generally friendly person.

Former football coach Mark Robinson knows Plaskon and said no one could have seen this coming.

"I saw him on Wednesday, passed him in the hallway, said, 'Hey how are you doing,'" he said. "'I'm doing fantastic.' No inclination, nothing as far as anything was bothering him."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)