The North Albany teenager accused of building bombs and planning an attack on his high school intends to present a defense of insanity, according to paperwork filed Monday in Benton County Circuit Court.
Grant Acord’s defense also has questions as to whether police informed the 17-year-old of his legal right to remain silent during interviews.
Acord can distinguish right from wrong, his attorney Jennifer Nash said, but she added that his obsessive-compulsive disorder caused the former West Albany High School junior to be unable to follow the law.
“Our position is my client was suffering from a mental disease or defect that made him unable to conform his behavior to the requirements of law,” she said.
West Albany is in Linn County, but Acord is being prosecuted in Benton County because the alleged plans for an attack and the bomb-making material were located in his home in North Albany, which is within Benton County.
Albany police arrested Acord on May 23 after receiving a tip that he planned to attack the school. Investigators from the Albany Police Department and Benton County Sheriff’s Office found six homemade bombs under the floorboards in his bedroom, according to court documents, as well as detailed lists, timelines and plans to allegedly carry out an attack styled after the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. In that attack, two teens fatally gunned down 12 students and a teacher and wounded 23 others before killing themselves.
In a statement released shortly after Acord’s arrest, his mother, Marianne Fox, said that her son suffers from a rare condition, known as Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus, that triggers obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Now that Nash has filed paperwork announcing her client’s intent to use the insanity defense, the state has the opportunity to perform its own mental evaluation of Acord. Once that evaluation takes place, the prosecution will determine whether to accept Acord’s plea or to proceed to trial, which has been tentatively scheduled for June.
Acord’s defense also plans to file a motion to suppress his statements to police on two grounds.
“One, that my client’s Miranda warnings — that he wasn’t advised of his rights. Also, there is a question of whether his statements were voluntary” based on his mental capacity, Nash said.
Because Acord wasn’t informed of his right to deny interviews with police, Nash said, his statements shouldn’t be admissible in court. Even if he had been told his rights, she explained, she doesn’t believe that he had the mental capacity to make a fully informed decision.
Benton County Chief Deputy District Attorney Christian Stringer said he couldn’t go into details of the motion or the case, but he did provide an outline of when Miranda rights must be used.
“Police officers are generally not required to read Miranda rights anytime they are questioning a person,” he said. “… Broadly speaking, the law requires custody (of the suspect) combined with interrogation before Miranda rights need to be read, and a court has to determine based on a long line of cases and circumstances when or if Miranda was required.”
It is unclear whether police had formally arrested Acord before interviewing him in front of his parents.
In a hearing Tuesday, Benton County Circuit Court Judge Locke Williams gave Nash a Jan. 31 deadline to file her motion to suppress.
Acord remains in custody and is being charged as an adult on one count of aggravated attempted murder and six counts each of manufacturing a destructive device, possession of a destructive device and possession of a weapon with intent to use it against another person. All 19 charges are felonies.