NEW: School Plotter Gets Probation
WOODSTOCK — In what Judge Dennis Hupp called a “weighty case,” a teen arrested for planning a massacre at a Shenandoah County high school last year will not see the inside of a state penitentiary.
On Wednesday, Aaron Trump, 18, of Edinburg, was sentenced in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to 15 years in prison with all but one year suspended.
He will be credited for nine months already spent in jail and will serve the three remaining months at the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail in Front Royal.
Trump also received 10 years of supervised probation and 20 years of unsupervised probation, to be served consecutively.
He had pleaded guilty to attempting to communicate a threat to use a bomb, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and attempting to create a hoax bomb, a charge carrying a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Hupp's ruling concluded the case that began almost nine months ago that included evidence and testimony from a multitude of law enforcement officials and mental health experts.
“I just hope and pray that I’ve done the right thing,” Hupp said.
Trump will have GPS monitoring and regular drug testing, as well as periodic property searches, during his first year of probation. This “intensive supervision” can be expanded or shortened at the request of a probation officer, Hupp said.
Hupp ordered several restrictions, including prohibited Internet access via a phone or computer, and he may not own or play video games “depicting violence.” Trump also may not enter school property unless enrolled in the institution.
He will continue to live with his grandmother, defense attorney Brandon Keller said. Trump’s family would not comment on the decision after the courtroom was dismissed.
Trump also was charged with attempting to commit an act of terrorism, a charge that Assistant Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s attorney Louis Campola said his office would not pursue. Campola said that if Trump had been convicted of terrorism the judge would have likely given the same ruling.
Prosecutors said at Trump’s presentencing on July 2 they would not pursue the third charge until hearing the judge’s ruling.
Hupp delayed the sentence one week, saying he was unsure of his decision based on statements from witnesses regarding Trump's Asperger’s syndrome and the benefits of probation versus incarceration in an adult prison.
Trump was arrested Sept. 27, 2013, for planning a bomb attack against students at Stonewall Jackson High School in Quicksburg. The same day he had disclosed his plans, outlined in a journal, to social worker Donna Steffey and sought emergency treatment in Winchester at her request. Steffey then notified school officials of Trump’s plans.
Police confiscated weapons, bomb-making supplies and a hoax bomb device from Trump’s bedroom at his grandmother’s, Lenore Kuykendall, home where he lived.
Trump claimed he was bullied by several classmates, a claim with which probation officer Amanda Hanson-Kibler said school officials did not concur.
Keller said Trump had no plans to carry out his plot.
“It does appear to me that he did recognize the waywardness of his thought and sought help from his counselor,” Hupp said in his decision, adding that Trump would need intense supervision throughout his probation.
Keller said he has no plans to appeal the decision.
Contact Amelia Brust at 574-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org