Ex-Springboro student to stand trial over social network post

(NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect the student’s academic status with the school district.)

A former Springboro High School student is to stand trial today on charges stemming from an investigation of a message he posted on the Instagram social network in the days after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and noting a coincidence with a popular computer game.

The case began on Feb. 16, two days after 17 students or staff at Marjory Stoneham Douglas High school were killed in shooting by a former student.

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The boy is charged with two counts of disorderly conduct in Warren County Juvenile Court stemming from the posting on Instagram including a picture of an Osprey gun with the reference to scoring a “killstreak” in the ‘Call of Duty: MW3’ game.

“If u don’t get the joke, it’s because in MW3 17 kills got u an osprey gunner as a kill streak. And it’s funny cuz 17 people died. Lol Get it? HAHa. Nah jk Im demented and death amuses me,” the boy said in the caption to the posting referred to in charging documents.

Court records show the boy, 16, of Clearcreek Twp., was detained on Feb. 20, but freed on March 1 on house arrest with electronic monitoring, provided he get mental health counseling, attend a day program at the detention center, follow a no-contact order and be barred from access to weapons or electronic devices.

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The boy’s lawyer, Aaron Aldridge, said the case was different from the dozen other school threat cases filed in Warren County since the latest deadly school shooting.

“There was no threat,” Aldridge said.

“If we’re going to arrest every kid that talks about something in the news, that’s very slippery slope,” Aldridge added. “I would argue the line is somewhere other than where it is here.”

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In response to questions about the incident, Scott Marshall, Springboro schools’ communications coordinator, said in an email: “As is standard procedure, we made all Springboro Schools’ personnel who have direct contact with individuals entering our buildings aware of the post and the details surrounding it, in order to maintain our standards of safety/security. No incidents were reported related to this individual since the post, and Clearcreek Township continued with their investigation. Springboro PD, Clearcreek Township PD, and Springboro Schools all worked together during this process.”

On Monday, Marshall added that the boy had attended Springboro High School, but “he was not enrolled as a Springboro High School student on Feb. 16 (the date of the post). The boy had been withdrawn prior to this and, therefore, was not a Springboro High School student at the time of the post, nor has he been up to and including now.”

Springboro Officer Aaron Nicely, a school resource officer assigned to the local district, notified Clearcreek Twp. police of the posts “that caused concern for safety at Springboro Schools,” according to a search warrant affidavit.

On Feb. 19, Clearcreek Sgt. Larry Cornett interviewed the boy about the post, which he admitted making, according to the affidavit.

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The boy “further advised that he has a dark sense of humor but would not hurt anyone” and went to target practice with his father, but had no access to guns kept in a safe, according to the affidavit.

He was charged with disorderly conduct.

No charges have been filed in connection with 14 images of “juvenile pornography” and three videos, one of an assassination, another of a woman being held at gunpoint and shot, a third of a dog set on fire, found on the phone, according to the affidavit.

In addition, a “partial extraction” of the phone showed it was “tethered” to a computer, according to the affidavit.

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With the warrant, issued by Warren County Common Pleas Judge Timothy Tepe, Cornett seized the laptop and a flash drive storage device, as well as Playstation and PS3 game devices.

Cornett said he was continuing to investigate the case in anticipation of the March 28 trial, but that the violent videos were legal.

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Although the search warrant claims pornography was found on the boy’s phone, Aldridge said it was in dispute whether the phone had been turned over voluntarily to police and noted no charges had been filed alleging porn was found.

“I know they were looking for it. I have not been informed that they have found anything,” Aldridge said.

Asked about the charges filed in the case, County Prosecutor David Fornshell said via text message that the Instagram post didn’t “rise to the level of a full-blown threat.”

Fornshell said he expected the case would go to trial Wednesday.

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