Prosecutors in Alex Youshock case seek retrial of sanity phase

Prosecutors are seeking to retry the sanity phase in the case against high school pipe-bomber Alex Youshock, hoping the teen will land in prison rather than a mental hospital.

Last month, Youshock, 18, was convicted of six of seven felony counts, including attempted murder, for the plot to kill teachers and students at Hillsdale High on Aug. 24, 2009. But a week later, the jury deadlocked over whether the teenager was sane.

Not pursuing a second trial of Youshock’s mental state is agreeing that he was not guilty by reason of insanity, San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said Wednesday.

If he is insane on all charges, he goes to a mental hospital rather than a prison, Guidotti said. He would stay in the hospital for a minimum six months. After six months, he could be released if deemed sane, she said.

“I don' t think that would be in the best interest of public safety,” Guidotti said.

The new trial is set for Sept. 19.

On April 8, 11 of 12 jurors ruled Youshock knew right from wrong on the day he went to Hillsdale High School armed with pipe bombs, a sword and a chainsaw.

Prosecutors say Youshock, then 17, had 10 pipe bombs strapped to a tactical vest and intended to kill as many students and teachers as possible. Youshock managed to detonate two of the bombs before he was tackled by teacher Kennet Santana, authorities said. No one was injured.

Court-appointed forensic psychologist Jeffrey Gould diagnosed Youshock with paranoid schizophrenia. But Gould testified that the mental disorder did not necessarily prevent him from understanding the nature and quality of his actions.

Youshock’s careful attack preparations and efforts to avoid detection by police and his parents were evidence he understood that his bomb plot was wrong, Gould said.

However, contradictory testimony was given by clinical psychiatrist Pablo Stewart, who said Youshock’s mental state prevented him from understanding wrongfulness.

In a video shown in court, Youshock told detectives he was driven by hatred for his former adviser, lead principal Jeff Gilbert, and for his chemistry teacher, Meghan Spaulding. Youshock said Spaulding picked on him constantly and gave him an “F.”

Wire reports contributed to this story.

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