Updated

Father apologizes for son

By CRAIG KAPITAN

Eagle Staff Writer

The father of a College Station Middle School student who brought a gun to campus and is thought to have written a hit list apologized Wednesday for the anxiety the incident has caused the community.

The man, an administrator at Texas A&M University, was the last witness of the day to take the stand in the ongoing punishment hearing for his 13-year-old son. The boy pleaded true — the juvenile equivalent of guilty — on Monday to bringing the gun to school.

“We know this has impacted a great number of individuals in the community,” the father said during testimony at the Brazos County Courthouse. He also apologized specifically to the courtroom audience, which included numerous parents of children who prosecutors believe were on the boy’s list.

It is the policy of The Eagle not to identify those in the court system charged as juveniles.

According to several students who have testified during the hearing, the boy intended to shoot another student when he brought the gun to campus in May. The boy’s girlfriend said he spoke frequently of a “kill list” etched on his closet door.

Prosecutors Katie Peterson and Shane Phelps have argued that the boy and the community would be served best if he was sent to a Texas Youth Commission facility.

The defense, however, has characterized the boy as boastful but not a killer. They have asked for intensive probation, urging the Judge Rick Davis not to punish the boy for a shooting that never occurred.

Also testifying Wednesday was the mother of the student who prosecutors contend the boy intended to shoot.

“You can’t describe the words,” the woman said of her reaction to police saying her son may have been a target. “Things like that don’t happen. It’s still a bad dream.”

Since the incident, her son has remained nervous and still has trouble sleeping, she said.

After the mother testified on behalf of the state, defense attorneys Wesley Hall and Patrick Gendron called two more students.

The defendant had threatened to beat people up in the past but never to end anyone’s life, one friend of the boy testified. It is common teenage vernacular to substitute the word “kill” for “beat up,” he also testified.

When asked if the defendant was violent, he said the boy occasionally punches walls.

The second student testified that the boy never mentioned shooting anyone on the morning police found the gun at the school. So far, four students who also were standing in the group at the time have testified otherwise.

The witness, who was brought into the courtroom in arm shackles and wearing a green jumpsuit, has charges pending against him that he helped the boy hide the gun.

A neighbor later described the boy as a good kid who tells a lot of tall tales. She also said the boy’s parents are known for being wary of guns.

On Monday, the boy’s girlfriend testified that, during a phone conversation, the boy said his mother saw the firearm and responded, “I hope you’re not planning to use that on me.”

The boy was given a BB gun once, the father testified Wednesday. But the man soon “suffered the wrath” of his wife for aiding the purchase, he said.

The man also was questioned about his boy’s closet door, which police suspected had the hit list written on it. The door was sanded down before investigators had a chance to inspect it.

“We felt it was extremely important to go in [to his room] — do a thorough straightening up,” the father said. “We had this obsession to see what we could do to start over.”

The man said he took two trips to Lowe’s on the same day the boy was arrested and started renovating the room. Not knowing that the etchings on the door may be important to an investigation, he sanded over them before police arrived the next day, he said.

Police subsequently spoke to the boy’s parents about the door. The mother of the boy’s girlfriend also testified she told the parents about the list that day.

But when police arrived to take the door several days after the conversation, it also had been painted over.

The father testified that he didn’t remember investigators using the word “kill” when describing the list, explaining to prosecutors why he thought it was OK to continue altering the item of interest.

Police did not specifically ask the parents to refrain from modifying the door, an officer said Tuesday.

The hearing is expected to wrap up Thursday with testimony from the boy’s mother, followed by closing arguments. The hearing continues at 9 a.m. in the 272nd District courtroom of the Brazos County Courthouse.

• Craig Kapitan’s e-mail address is ckapitan@theeagle.com.

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