Defense Says Teen who Brought Pipe Bombs to School has Schizophrenia

MARCH 08, 2011
Chris Cole
The attorney for a teenager from San Mateo, CA—who as accused of bringing 10 pipe bombs, a sword, and a chainsaw to the Hillsdale High School campus with deadly intent in 2009—said yesterday that the teen, now 18, suffers from schizophrenia and that the disorder “prevented the disgruntled former student from being able to discern fantasy from reality,” according to an article on KTVU.com.
 
The defense attorney, Jonathan McDougall, maintained that the teen, Alexander Youshock, had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which causes him to hallucinate, hear voices, and be unable to discern between legitimate situations and those invented by his paranoia. Further, McDougall said his client suffers “from a mental disease he did not choose,” adding that he can’t form specific intent and premeditate.
 
Further pleading his case, McDougall said that Youshcok refused to eat anything in the months leading up to the attack by cheeseburgers that he cooked, took two-hour showers, and demanded that all lights in his mother’s apartment be left on.
 
Prosecutors in the case alleged that Youshock went to the school on August 24, 2009 with plans of killing his former teacher and terrorizing students, adding that he had prepared for the events by constructing pipe bombs at home and recording “deranged” messages in the months prior to that day.
 
The deranged messages refer to a video—presented by Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti, which she said Youshock created and left on his bed—a journal, and a suicide note that investigators found when searching his home. In the video, a bearded and military-style vest-wearing Youschock said “Feel what it's like to be hated by everyone. Feel what it's like to be me," directly into the camera while superimposed on a backdrop of the American flag, flames, and the words “F*#@ USA” in bright yellow.
 
The events in August 2009, according to prosecutors, were motivated by the former student’s self-imposed isolation and hatred for a chemistry teacher who had flunked him. The prosecutors also said that Youshock was inspired by school massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School. In fact, Guidotti read a journal entry from April 2009 in which Youshock wrote about naming his chainsaw: “I named her Collie. It's short for Columbine ... I love Collie."
 
According to Guidotti, in order to convince his mother to buy sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate—used to make explosives—online, Youshock told her he was constructing a rocket. Guidotti said that after making 10 of the pipe bombs, the teen attached them to a tactical jacket that he wore to the high school, while concealing the chainsaw in guitar case and wearing a facemask to shield himself from blood spatters.
 
Fortunately for those at Hillsdale High School that day, Youshock was unsuccessful at starting the chainwaw outside the chemistry teacher’s class, with the noise made by these attempts alerting a security guard and other teachers. Of the 10 bombs, two were detonated by Youshock while attempting to escape, according to prosecutors, who said he threw one at an advancing security guard and tossed another down a hall as students and staff tried to escape from nearby classrooms.
 
A teacher, the principal, and a responding San Mateo police offer eventually tackled nd subdued Youshock outside of the school.
 
If convicted, Youshock faces life in prison, based charges of two counts of attempted murder, two counts of exploding a destructive device with the intent to commit murder, one count of possession of a destructive device in a public place, one count of use of explosives in an act of terrorism, and two counts of possession of a deadly weapon.
 
 
HCPLive wants to know:
What do psychiatrists make of this case?
Assuming Youshock did lie to his mother about the use of the ingredients he ordered, and journal entries and videos show him discussing related events and discussing his weapons of choice, do you think Youshock suffers from schizophrenia, or is he actually able to form specific intent and premeditate?
Could he have schizophrenia and still be able to do these things?
What do you make of his refusal to eat anything other than self-cooked cheeseburgers, his two-hour showers, and demands to keep the lights on at home?
Should his mother have been able to see the signs and seek medical help for her son?
Is there enough information out there for parents to be able to see the signs? How can physicians help in this area?
With this limited information, if you were on the jury, what would be your verdict?
Have you ever sat in as a medical expert in a case involving an alleged criminal with a mental disorder? What was the experience like?

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