Lawyer: Chardon High School shooting suspect TJ Lane in plea talks

CHARDON, Ohio - CHARDON, Ohio - Negotiations are under way for a possible plea deal for a teenager suspected of killing three students at a high school cafeteria, one of his attorneys said Friday.

Attorney Ian Friedman confirmed the negotiations but wouldn't offer details about the discussions in the case of 18-year-old T.J. Lane.

Friedman said if a plea occurs it could happen as early as Lane's next court date, on Feb. 26, the day before the anniversary of the deadly shootings at Chardon High School, east of Cleveland.

Lane is charged with fatally shooting the three students and injuring others.

There were mixed reactions on a possible plea deal from Chardon residents as news of the update made waves Friday.

"I'd probably like to see a trial.  I'm not sure.  I'm not sure what the family wants," said Chardon business owner, Tom Ray. That same concern for the victims' families and how they would approve of a possible plea deal was the shared opinion several people, not just Ray. One of them, Liz Bechkowiak who lives right across the street from Chardon High School. 

Bechkowiak said she was home the morning of February 27, 2012 and remembers praying for everyone as she watched everything unfold outside of her living room window. 

On a possible plea deal, she told NewsChannel 5, "I don't know if a long jury trial would be good for this town or not. I don't know but we are trying to heal, we are healing." 

And you could see that healing inside the High School as families gathered for a Friday night basketball game.  Kids were running around and playing as parents cheered for their sons on the court.  But it took a long time to get there as many tell us.  You could hear the emotions conjure behind every breath Bechkowiak took as she described her sorrow over the shooting.

Still not everyone is confident a plea deal will help Chardon heal.  "It touched us all around here so it's not just a Chardon thing," said Jim Fleenor of Mentor, "people are not going to want to see a plea deal, they're going to want to see this thing go to a trial and get what he deserves."

Since the shooting, a judge has ordered psychiatric testing for Lane. Attorneys for both sides want the testing to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

Before the case went to adult court last year, a juvenile court judge ruled that Lane was mentally competent despite evidence he suffers from hallucinations, psychosis and fantasies.

Prosecutors say Lane fired 10 shots at a group of students in the cafeteria. He was at the school waiting for a bus to his alternative school.

Investigators say he admitted shooting at students but said he didn't know why he did it.

Lane faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted. He isn't eligible for the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of the shootings.

The school district plans to commemorate the anniversary of the Feb. 27 shootings with service projects and other events, including a memorial walk to the town square by students, staff members and first responders.

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