In a shocking unfolding of events on Thursday, Brooke Higgins, the second of the two 16-year-old teenagers accused of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, was charged as an adult. Higgins appeared before Douglas County District Judge Paul King, where she was officially charged with plotting to kill her classmates and the school staff last month at Mountain Vista High School in suburban Denver. Sienna Johnson, her alleged accomplice, had already been charged last week in an adult court with identical charges.
A distraught Higgins broke down in tears after King set her bond at $1million as he had done for her supposed co-conspirator, Johnson. On Wednesday, Johnson had watched court proceedings with horror, her foot vibrating and her face emotional. She (Johnson) has been scheduled for a psychological evaluation. Higgins had already voluntarily taken one.
Both girls attended Mountain Vista High School, and they were arrested last month after two anonymous tipsters alerted the authorities of their plot.
The lawyers of both the two teenagers are seeking to have the cases sent back to a juvenile court, but the prosecution insisted that the severity of the alleged crimes warranted trying the cases in an adult court.
The prosecutors stated that the two girls admired the Columbine Shooters and the movie Natural Born Killers.The entries in the girls’ social media accounts showed moody pictures of blood-spattered walls and journal records expressed frustration and anguish.
The shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 left 15 dead, including the two perpetrators. Incidentally, Columbine is a quarter-hour drive from Mountain Vista.Higgins had taken a picture of the road outside Columbine High School and Googled the names of the perpetrators. She had also written, expressing a desire to have been part of the two shooters.
“The idea that the incident at Columbine is to be admired, that the people who did that are gods or heroes …There are parents in this city that want to make sure their kids are protected,” said Judge King on Thursday in setting the hefty bond of $1 million for Higgins.
In addition to the Columbine shootings, surrounding areas have had a share of other similar incidents. In Aurora, half an hour drive away, 12 people were murdered three years ago at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” In Colorado Springs, an hour south, two shootings occurred in October and November.
Sienna Johnson appears to be the most extreme of the two girls.She had an unsettled childhood, as her parents divorced and she was constantly on the move from place to place. She had expressed disappointment at not being able to have a normal family. She said that she started rebelling when she was in 7th grade. She had apparently been kicked out of her father’s house. Her social media account features disturbing posts, including one postentitled “kill yourself.”Despite all this, Johnson had an interest in art and music.
Dagny Van Der Jagt, Higgins’s lawyer, was quick to distance her client from Johnson.
“The girls were casual school acquaintances who had associated with each other for a brief time.They have different backgrounds, personalities, motivations and behaviors,” he said.
“There was an agreement, and they took steps to get weapons based on that agreement. They were friends, they hung out outside school, and before this had said things individually about shooting up the school, then when they got together they put that plan into motion,” the DA said, refuting the claims made by Higgins’s lawyer.
Higgins’s preliminary is set for the end of February while that of Johnson is set for the beginning of March.