Teen pleads guilty to two charges in terrorism case
By Katie Demeria
WOODSTOCK — Aaron Michael Trump of Edinburg, an 18-year-old accused of plotting a massacre at Stonewall Jackson High School, pleaded guilty to two of three charges Wednesday.
After Shenandoah County Circuit Court Judge Dennis L. Hupp refused defense attorney Brandon Keller’s request to expand upon Trump’s psychological evaluation, Trump pleaded guilty without a plea agreement to both creating a device designed to look like a bomb and communicating a bomb threat.
Keller said actions relating to the third charge, conspiring to commit terrorism, would wait until the presentence investigation report becomes available.
The maximum sentence for creating a device designed to look like a bomb is five years in prison. For communicating a bomb threat, the maximum sentence is 10 years.
Hupp noted the fact that, though Trump is being tried as an adult, the incident occurred in September of last year, when he was 17 years old.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola reviewed the evidence involved in both charges.
Authorities discovered Trump’s intentions after he sent text messages to another juvenile in Missouri. The text messages revealed Trump’s plot to massacre individuals at Stonewall Jackson High School at 11:08 a.m. April 21, 2014.
“You’re lucky you don’t live near me,” Trump told the juvenile in a text message, according to Campola’s evidence.
In the messages, Trump continuously referred to Natural Born Killers, or NBK. Campola explained that these were references to the violent 1994 film of the same title.
The individuals responsible for the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado referenced the same film in their plots, Campola pointed out.
Campola also described the devices Trump had in his bedroom which were designed to look like bombs. They were tins containing bolts and nuts with wires coming out of them.
Keller referred to those bolts and nuts as junk, but Campola said it seemed like shrapnel.
Keller made a point to explain that, initially, Missouri authorities contacted Stonewall Jackson High School in Prince William County. It was Trump’s therapist who contacted the school in Shenandoah County because Trump went to her seeking assistance.
“A lot of this comes to light because he was asking for help,” Keller told Hupp. “He didn’t want to do this.”
Trump’s next court date is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. May 28.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org