Judge orders part of court file sealed in school terrorism case
By Joe Beck
Shenandoah County Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp has sealed a report describing the actions and mental health history of Aaron Trump leading up to Trump’s arrest on charges tied to alleged plotting for an armed attack on Stonewall Jackson High School.
Hupp ordered the file sealed in response to a request from defense attorney Brandon Keller, who said he was concerned about the appearance of the report in a newspaper story.
Keller described the document as a transfer report written when Trump’s case was transferred from juvenile and domestic relations court to circuit court.
“It shouldn’t have been unsealed to begin with,” Keller said in an interview Friday. “It’s much like a pre-sentence investigation. It includes a lot of information that isn’t necessarily relevant as to whether or not a crime was committed. It would be relevant to the sentencing phase.
“In order to protect the integrity of the case itself, that information shouldn’t have been available at this point.”
The Northern Virginia Daily reported portions of the report on Jan. 17 following grand jury indictments issued against Trump in circuit court.
Law enforcement officials arrested Trump, 18, of 546 Rittenour Road, Edinburg, in late September. He is facing charges of attempting to commit an act of terrorism, threatening to bomb, burn destroy or burn Stonewall Jackson High School and constructing a fake explosive device in an attempt to deceive someone into believing it was real.
The report, written by a probation officer, states that Trump had made a detailed plan for a massacre at the high school in Quicksburg, where he was a student.
The report described the attack plans as “very similar to the school massacre of Columbine High School in Colorado” in 1999.
Trump’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 12.
Keller said he and assistant commonwealth’s attorney Louis Campola are continuing to try to negotiate a plea agreement.
“I’m still hopeful we can accomplish that,” Keller said of a plea agreement, adding, “if we can get that done, great. If we can’t, we’re looking more toward setting a trial date.”
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org