Judge Allows Confession at Trial in Case of Threatening E-Mail
December 21, 2000
Andrew DeCarlo The confession of a former Naperville North student accused of posting a threatening e-mail about a high school massacre will be allowed at trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Andrew DeCarlo, now an 18-year-old college freshman studying computer engineering, sought to have his confession and arrest tossed out after arguing police failed to follow proper procedures.
Prosecutor Tim Diamond said DeCarlo got a stolen password last February to enter the high school's internal computer system and posted an unsigned, malicious e-mail threatening violence.
Although the note was deleted before school officials saw it, at least once student read it and told others. Concerned parents alerted authorities after learning the note read, "If you thought Columbine was bad, wait until you see what happens Feb. 10."
The message referred to the deadly shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in which two students killed 13 people and then themselves.
No one was injured in Naperville, but students were let out early that day because of the ruckus triggered by rumors spreading through the school community.
Naperville North police liaison officer Louis Jourdan was led to DeCarlo after interviewing several students. He and other school officials questioned DeCarlo in the principal's office before transferring him to the police station.
DeCarlo admitted to posting the message, prosecutors say, and signed a waiver of his rights before preparing a written confession.
He was charged with felony computer tampering, disorderly conduct and harassment through electronic communication.
Defense attorney John Malevitis argued police did not have probable cause to question and, later, arrest DeCarlo. He alleged police did so in an intimidating setting and denied his client's requests to talk to his parents and an attorney.
"The state would like you to believe this was just a friendly conversation," Malevitis said. "We all know better. This was five adults interrogating a scared high school kid who had no prior involvement with the criminal justice system."
DuPage Associate Judge Michael Burke ruled police followed the law in detaining DeCarlo and properly advised him of his rights.
The judge also questioned DeCarlo's testimony on Sept. 6 when the honors student claimed he didn't understand his right "to remain silent."
"I found the defendant's testimony to be, at times, extremely incredible," Burke said. "He is a very intelligent young man. Extremely intelligent. At times, this court thought he was too smart for his own good. He was even trying to play word games with the prosecutor."
Malevitis has criticized police and school officials for "overreacting" out of fear, rather than evidence.
DeCarlo, who was expelled from North last March, has been out of jail on bond since shortly after his arrest. A trial date is expected to be set next month.
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