Teen charged with 2 murder counts

SANTEE, California, AP

The 15-year-old suspect in a high school shooting spree was charged with two counts of murder as hundreds of his fellow students returned to campus to find freshly patched bullet holes and grief counselors in every classroom.

Charles Andrew “Andy” Williams, accused of killing two and wounding 13 in a hail of small-caliber pistol fire at 1900-student Santana High School in suburban San Diego, remained silent throughout the brief, nationally televised hearing Wednesday.

The boy, who has been described by an investigator as “mad at the world,” wore an orange prison jumpsuit that hung from his thin frame and sat with his head bowed, occasionally looking up through tousled brown bangs at the judge.

Williams didn’t enter a plea, and his arraignment was postponed for two weeks at the request of his lawyer, Randy Mize.

Defense attorneys said they plan to challenge Proposition 21, an initiative passed by voters last year that requires prosecutors to charge youths as adults for murder and other serious crimes. Previously, judges decided whether youths would be charged as adults.

Seats had been reserved for relatives of the two dead Santana students, senior Randy Gordon and freshman Bryan Zuckor, as well as families of 13 injured in the shootings. But they did not appear in the otherwise packed 49-seat courtroom.

Some students from the high school, including three cheerleaders dressed in purple and white sweat suits, attended.

“I don’t hate him for what he did,” said cheerleader Courtney Guthaus.”I just want to know why.”

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Herbert J. Exarhos set arraignment for March 26 and denied bail because of special circumstances contained in the indictment. Special circumstances under California law are attached to charges where the alleged criminal was “lying in wait” for his victims.

Charges include two counts of murder with special circumstances, 13 counts of premeditated attempted murder and other counts alleging assault with a deadly weapon and firearms possession.

The boy cannot be given the death penalty because of his age, said prosecutor Kristin Anton. If convicted on all charges he could be sentenced to 500 years imprisonment.