The Boston criminal defense team of a Massachusetts high school student accused of stabbing a classmate to death in a bathroom at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High in Sudbury wants the charges against the boy dropped because he has Asperger syndrome (AS).
The defense says that a grand jury were improperly ordered to ignore the fact that John Odgren, 17, has Asperger syndrome, which makes him a special needs case. Odgren’s defense team is arguing that the disorder is responsible for his sometimes violent and bizarre actions. Odgren has been charged with first-degree murder.
Odgren is accused of killing James Alenson, 15, in January 2007. He allegedly approached the boy, slashed his throat with a 13-inch carving knife before stabbing his lung, stomach, liver, and heart.
Odgren’s defense team believes that he would have been charged with second-degree murder or a lesser crime if the grand jury had been given more information about the teenager’s condition.
Last March, Odgren was found competent to stand trial. He is in jail in the Cambridge courthouse.
Considered an autism spectrum disorder, Asperger Syndrome can involve odd speech patterns, obsessiveness, poor social interactions, and peculiar mannerisms. Symptoms can include motor delays, limited interest, and peculiar preoccupations.
Odgren’s criminal defense team says that the boy’s disorder affects his premeditation and intent and that obsessing with weapons and other morbid items is associated with AS.
Suspect in fatal L-S school stabbing seeks lesser charges, Boston Herald, March 6, 2008
Related Web Resources:
State report describes teen’s early aggression, Boston.com, January 23, 2007
Asperger Syndrome, KidsHealth.org
Asperger Syndrome Fact Sheet, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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