Note: This story has been updated to remove the name of the juvenile suspect, who was found not guilty of solicitation for murder on July 16, 2024.

A South Portland teen accused of planning a school shooting is being tried in juvenile court this week.

The 17-year-old suspect has pleaded not guilty to one count of criminal solicitation for murder for allegedly trying to recruit another student to shoot up South Portland High School. He was arrested in April 2023 by a regional SWAT team that seized several high-powered rifles, Nazi flags and ballistic military gear from his home.

Authorities also have accused the teenager of throwing Molotov cocktails, burning LGBTQ pride flags and glorifying the Columbine gunmen.

The trial began in Cumberland County Juvenile Court on Monday morning and is scheduled to continue through Tuesday. District Court Judge Peter Darvin, who is overseeing the case, is not expected to make an immediate ruling.

One witness, whom attorneys referred to as Jane Doe, was expected to testify Monday, but prosecutors told the judge that they suspect she left the state with her father to “avoid participating in the hearing.” Darvin agreed to issue a warrant for her arrest in an attempt to get her to testify on Tuesday.

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The teen’s defense attorney said in court Monday that they don’t have any first-hand witnesses lined up. It also isn’t clear if the suspect will testify or if anyone will speak about his character. His attorney, Mark Peltier, said in an email Monday afternoon that he will make that decision after prosecutors rest their case.

During Monday’s proceedings, the teen, dressed in a suit and floral tie, sat quietly next to his attorney. A teacher and several members of his family watched the hearing from the front row.

Prosecutors had attempted to move his case to adult court, but after a series of hearings, Darvin ruled in March that his case will stay in the juvenile system. At those hearings, Darvin heard testimony from Logan Rall, 19, who said the suspect was one of his closest friends.

Rall testified that he alerted South Portland police to his friend’s alleged plans in April 2023 because he was “concerned for the safety and well-being of the students.” He said the teen invited him to join a neo-Nazi chatroom, which the suspect had again accessed last year after his arrest in violation of the terms of his release, leading to his brief detention at Long Creek Youth Development Center.

Rall also said his friend asked him to buy ammunition and other firearm and pipe bomb materials because he was 18.

But defense attorneys said Rall would have only been 17 at the time. They argue that most of the prosecutors’ case is based on Rall’s testimony, which they deem inconsistent and dishonest at times. Darvin agreed that Rall was a “flawed” witness.

At those earlier hearings, prosecutors also presented some of the more than 9,500 files they seized from the teen’s phone, including social media posts of him posing in front of guns with captions related to school shootings and videos playing the song “Pumped Up Kicks,” which is about children running away from a school shooter.

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