Mountain Vista threat case moves forward

High school threat case moves forward. 9NEWS at 4 p.m. 10/3/16.

KUSA -The case of two teenage girls accused of plotting to attack Mountain Vista High School is moving forward after the Colorado Supreme Court issued a decision on procedural questions raised by the defendants.

Prosecutors allege Brooke Higgins and Sienna Johnson were working together to obtain weapons and carry out a murderous attack at their school around Christmas 2015.

Both were arrested in December 2015.  They were originally charged as juveniles, but where subsequently charged as adults.

Higgins and Johnson are requesting a "reverse transfer" to send their case back to juvenile court where punishments are softer.

Prior to Higgins' request, she agreed to a mental health evaluation under advisement of her attorney.

After her request for reverse transfer, Higgins, under new counsel, asked to suppress the mental health exam and asked to disqualify Douglas County District Judge Paul King who is overseeing the case.

Johnson also requested a reverse transfer hearing, and Douglas County prosecutors argued her request requires she undergo a mental health exam and produce mental health records.

Johnson refused.  In her case, King sided with prosecutors, arguing that Johnson waived the confidentiality of her mental health records when her attorneys asked to send the case back to juvenile court.
A judge must consider eleven factors -including mental health status - when deciding whether a case goes back to juvenile court, making the records a critical piece of evidence.

Higgins and Johnson appealed directly to the Colorado Supreme Court.

In the appeal, Higgins' attorney argued King made a mistake when he decided not to suppress the examination, and argued she should have been warned of her right to plead the fifth.

Attorney's representing Johnson argued she should not have produce mental health records as part of a reverse transfer request, nor be forced to undergo a psychological evaluation.

Justices sided with Johnson but declined to answer Higgins' questions, calling the scenario "hypothetical" and noting she'd consented to the exam.

The decisions mean the case will continue after months of delay.

Higgins is due in court October 5.  Johnson is scheduled to return to court October 21. 

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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