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St. George, UT: Judge to decide case of 16-yr-old with autism who brought bomb to school

July 13, 2018, St. George (UT) Spectrum: Defense witness: Teen in school bomb case was seeking attention / A teen's autism spectrum disorder diagnosis was again the center of scrutiny in his court case Friday. The 16-year-old boy is accused of bringing a backpack bomb to one Southern Utah high school and vandalizing another with ISIS messages. Defense attorney Steven Harris called Lillian Adolphson, vice president of behavior services at Utah Behavior Services, to the stand to testify about a brief psychological evaluation UBS conducted on the teen specific to his autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. Adolphson is a rebuttal witness to a state witness who on July 6 questioned the teen's high-functioning, level 1 autism diagnosis, saying some characteristics and factors of autism don't line up with the crimes of which he is accused. Friday's proceeding marked one of the last hearings of the secondary portion of the preliminary hearing in the case, used to determine if the teen will be tried in juvenile court or if his case will be transferred to adult court…. Although an individual diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder may not appear to have communication deficits, there may be delays in comprehension, Adolphson testified. Authorities say the defendant left a homemade incendiary device in the cafeteria at Pine View High School in St. George in March. He was charged with two first-degree felonies: attempted murder and use of a weapon of mass destruction…. During Adolphson's testimony, she said the teen would be a better fit in the juvenile court system because he would have better access to mental-health treatment and could be integrated into society in a more therapeutic setting. … Judge Paul E. Dame will hear closing arguments Monday, marking the end of the preliminary hearing in the case. The court will then decide whether or not the teen's case will be tried in adult court.

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