TOWSON, Md. (AP) — A high school sophomore pleaded guilty to attempted murder Tuesday in the shooting of an intellectually disabled classmate last year in suburban Baltimore.
Robert Gladden Jr., 15, entered the plea to the adult charge on the day his trial was scheduled to begin in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Judge Robert Cahill Jr. accepted the plea and agreed to a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. Sentencing was scheduled for Monday.
Gladden also pleaded guilty to using a firearm in a crime of violence. Both counts involved 17-year-old Daniel Borowy, who was hit in the back with a shotgun blast last August on the first day of classes at Perry Hall High School. Borowy, who has Down syndrome, missed more than 2 months of school while recuperating from his injuries.
Gladden had been charged as an adult with 29 offenses, including nine counts of first-degree attempted murder. The other potential victims included the students sitting at a lunch table with Borowy and the school employees who wrestled the shotgun away from the teen, authorities said.
Gladden gave mostly one-word answers to questions from the judge about his willingness to plead guilty, keeping his head slightly bowed with his long, reddish-brown hair slightly obscuring his face. His mother and a few other supporters sobbed and wiped their eyes as the teen entered his plea.
Borowy's family was not in the courtroom.
Gladden's attorney, George Psoras, has said the boy brought the gun to school to intimidate bullies and did not intend to shoot anyone. The judge rejected a motion from Psoras to move the case to juvenile court, where the teen would have faced less harsh punishment.
Gladden had expressed suicidal thoughts. At 6:27 a.m. on the day of the shooting, he wrote on his Facebook page, "First day of school, last day of my life." The Facebook page also included references to murder-suicide and to mass murderer Charles Manson.