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Wednesday, Jul 31 2013 09:30 PM

Attorney says accused Taft school shooter should not have been charged as adult

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Bryan Oliver arrives in Kern County Superior Court for his arraignment on attempted murder charges following the Taft Union High school shooting last week.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

The attorney for accused school shooter Bryan Oliver argued Wednesday that the teen should not have been charged as an adult, and a judge will rule on the issue next week.

Deputy Public Defender Paul Cadman said during a court hearing that Oliver was only 16 at the time of the Jan. 10 shooting at Taft Union High School, and the District Attorney's office should have charged him as a juvenile.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Pafford said the California Welfare and Institutions Code allows prosecutors to file adult charges against anyone 16 or older accused of committing certain serious offenses.

Oliver has pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault with a gun on a person. He's being held on $1.5 million bail.

Judge John S. Somers will rule Aug. 7 on Cadman's argument that Oliver should be tried as a juvenile.

Authorities have said Oliver entered a classroom at Taft High and opened fire with a shotgun. Bowe Cleveland, 16, suffered injuries to his abdomen and chest.

Shotgun pellets grazed teacher Ryan Heber, and Oliver fired at but missed student Jacob Nichols, according to law enforcement reports filed in court. Heber and campus supervisor Kim Fields convinced Oliver to drop the gun.

The shooting followed the Sandy Hook massacre in Newton, Conn. and generated massive publicity both stateside and internationally. It also prompted renewed calls for gun restrictions.

Cadman has said Oliver was mercilessly bullied every day at school. A Kern County Sheriff's deputy at Oliver's preliminary hearing July 9 said Oliver told a school official he "snapped" as a result of the constant bullying.

Cadman has argued that attempted murder is the wrong charge because Oliver never intended to kill anyone.

In addition to criminal proceedings, attorney Daniel Rodriguez has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Cleveland family against the Taft Union High School District alleging the district failed to take adequate precautions in connection with the dangers Oliver posed. Rodriguez has said district officials knew, or reasonably should have known, that Oliver was dangerous, threatening and likely to commit a violent act.

Students have told law enforcement that Oliver created a "hit list" of students he intended to kill, according to testimony at Oliver's preliminary hearing.

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