Trial beginning for teenager accused in bombing plot

Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday in the attempted murder trial of a teen accused of plotting a rampage at his former high school in San Mateo.

Alexander Youshock, 18, could go to prison for life if he is convicted on seven felony charges stemming from the alleged Aug. 24, 2009, incident at Hillsdale High School.

San Mateo County prosecutors say Youshock, then 17, went to Hillsdale with a chainsaw, a two-foot sword and 10 pipe bombs strapped to a tactical vest, intending 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. He faces seven charges, including two counts of attempted murder, two counts of exploding a destructive device, two counts of possessing explosives and one count of possessing a dagger.

Among the witnesses expected at the trial are Youshock’s mother, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Youshock’s plea of not guilty by reason of insanity could also affect his fate. If he is convicted, the trial would go to a sanity phase in which the same jurors would consider whether he knew what he was doing and whether he knew it was wrong, officials said.

Court-appointed doctors have concluded Youshock is competent to stand trial, but if jurors find that he was insane at the time he committed the crime, he could go to a mental hospital instead of prison.

Defense attorney Jonathan McDougall could not be reached for comment.

sbishop@sfexaminer.com

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