The 16-year-old alleged to be responsible for the Jan. 22 Italy High School shooting that sent one girl to the hospital will be tried as an adult, an Ellis County judge ruled Tuesday afternoon.
Judge Cindy Ermatinger, of the 443rd District Court of Ellis County, commanded the shooter, Chad Padilla, be tried as an adult after she heard one physiological diagnosis, findings by the lead investigator, and testimony from multiple family members.
Padilla faces two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two charges of deadly conduct, one charge of a terroristic threat with bodily injury and one charge of unlawful possession of a firearm.
The mother of the now-16-year-old female victim stated her daughter is a "strong girl," but vividly recalls the shooting almost every night.
"It doesn't matter if it's a good dream, he shoots her every night," the mother stated while on the stand during the bond hearing Tuesday. She added her daughter "fears to be touched" and often feels the need to have her back against a wall.
Padilla, who has bonds that total $300,000, turns 17 years old on Thursday, which is the legal age of an adult in the State of Texas.
If his bond is posted, Padilla will be fitted for a GPS monitor, and be placed under house arrest with no cellphone and no social media. He will be held in a Dallas County facility through Wednesday and then transferred to the Wayne McCollum Detention Center in Waxahachie on Thursday.
Brian McIntosh, an investigator with the Ellis County Sheriff's Department, stated Padilla “seemed like he was on a mission" after entering Italy High School before the first bell rang Jan. 22.
In his professional opinion, McIntosh determined that all of the Italy ISD students were victims of "fear" and the "incident will stay with them for the rest of their lives."
McIntosh further detailed the unfoldings, stating security footage showed Padilla entered the cafeteria wearing a black trench coat and promptly located his targets. He then exited the cafeteria and entered a bathroom, cocked his .380-caliber handgun, placed the weapon into his right coat pocket and reentered the cafeteria. At that time, approximately 100 students were in the cafeteria and ranged from 7th to 12th grade.
According to McIntosh, Padilla approached the female victim and asked her "to slap him in the face." She refused and, instead, gave him a hug.
Before firing the handgun, Padilla told the female, “I am sorry it had to end this way,” McIntosh stated. Padilla then shot the female, fired at and missed a male victim — later identified as the female's boyfriend — and turned his fire again on the girl.
McIntosh continued, stating that as students rushed out of the cafeteria, Padilla followed the female victim outside, threw the gun, stood over her and asked, “Why?! Say you’re sorry.”
McIntosh later learned Padilla left his father a text message that read, "I love you. Sorry about what I am about to do," and his mother a written noted that stated, "I love you mom."
The investigation also found Padilla obtained the handgun a few days prior to the shooting when his mother drove him to the father's house to pick up "art supplies."
According to McIntosh's investigation, Padilla had a history of violence. School records showed 11 incidents (three violent, eight behavioral), with the latest case having occurred in December 2016. The incidents included Padilla throwing scissors at a student, throwing a backpack at a student’s face, and punching a computer.
McIntosh then stated Padilla fatally stabbed his stepgrandmother’s pit bull several years prior. At first, he said the dog bit him. He later confessed to the killing and said, “I can’t feel anything.”
According to the investigation, Padilla also stabbed a teenage acquaintance at a city park, though McIntosh stated the teen gave consent in the staged incident to take the focus away from a fake social media account the school was looking into.
The Italy Police Department ultimately dropped the charges, so Padilla did not ever enter Ellis County Juvenile Services.
Robert Lackey, PhD, a licensed psychologist, took the stand and detailed the clinical, physiological report and the discretionary transfer analysis he conducted.
Lackey stated he spoke with the school principal, Padilla's English teacher, the special education department director and Padilla's 19-year-old stepbrother, as well as the Padilla on four occasions.
The three Italy High School faculty members agreed Padilla was typically respectful during discourse and was even given tools to control his anger, such as leaving class to pace the hallway.
Lackey also concluded Padilla had a family-based support system in addition to that offered by the high school. Lackey added he found the acts of violence to be "infrequent but significant.”
The psychologist also stated Padilla has an IQ of 117, which is above average. His personality profile exhibited depression, self-pity, social neediness, self-sabotage and loss of hope.
Lackey also detailed that Padilla was hospitalized three times over a 19-month period — May 2015, December 2015 and October 2016. During the last hospitalization, Padilla claimed, “others manipulated him" and "they must pay.” He was enraged and planned to hurt his peers.
During Padilla's hospitalization in May 2015, reports from the center detailed by Lackey stated he wanted to burn down the school and wanted to "kill people." He also told therapists that he felt powerful when others feared him and thought killing animals was fun.
Lackey concluded the juvenile could benefit from rigorous, long-term treatment.
Chelsea Smith, the chief probation officer with the Ellis County Juvenile Services, also took the stand and stated she did not think Padilla could benefit from the department's services.
She explained after reviewing Padilla's history — both of treatment and actions — that ECJS does not have the resources or time to properly treat his mental health. She also noted the "services themselves wouldn't be different than what he has already done."
The father, grandmother, and a family friend of Padilla all took the stand, as called by the defense.
His father, Chad Padilla Sr., stated he "knew there was a major problem" after finding out about the premeditated stabbing at the Italy park. He also recalled regularly go on hunting trips with his son and never felt uncomfortable.
Padilla Sr. stated his son never disclosed to him that he was bullied at school or that he ever sought help. However, Padilla Sr. did recall times when his son would break down in tears and found that as a cry for help.
In 2015, Padilla Sr. stated the family reached out to several mental-health hospitals but "no beds were available." He could not recall ever putting his son on a waiting list.
"I wasn't hard enough on my son as I should have been," Padilla Sr. added.
Baraba Wood, Padilla's grandmother, stated he is "very loving and caring, very respectful." It was at that time Padilla and his mother could be seen weeping inside of the courtroom.
She also stated there were never any problems with Padilla while in her presence.
During the closing arguments, Charles Slaton, on behalf of the defense, noted that the treatment Padilla received was inconsistent and his parents did everything they could at the time to help their son.
Slaton added the defense thought Padilla should be tried as a juvenile since the system is geared toward rehabilitation instead of punishment. He noted if Padilla is tried as an adult he faces between two and 20 years in a Texas state correctional facility. Slaton added the defense thinks the best protection for the community is for Padilla to receive proper rehabilitation.
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