MILFORD, Conn., June 4 (UPI) -- A Connecticut teenager, who allegedly killed a classmate who refused to go to the prom with him, asked for a trial before a panel of judges instead of a jury on Wednesday.
Christopher Plaskon, 17, pleaded not guilty to killing Maren Sanchez. She died in April after being stabbed in a stairwell at Jonathan Law High School in Milford.
Plaskon's lawyer, Richard T. Meehan, said the decision to avoid a jury trial was partly influenced by the recent killing spree in California by a young man who took his own life. Elliot Rodger allegedly believed he had been spurned by young women.
"I'm a firm believer that juries have a very difficult time with issues pertaining to mental health and the criminal justice system," Meehan told the Hartford Courant. "I think what happened in Santa Barbara recently, that would only make presenting this type of an issue to a jury that much more difficult. Judges have a better sense of this kind of thing and deal with the facts and the objective opinions of doctors better than the average juror."
Meehan said he has not yet decided whether to use an insanity defense. He called his client "a very sorrowful, sad youngster."
Plaskon is on anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety medication and is housed in a prison infirmary, Meehan said.
In addition, Plaskon waived a probable-cause hearing. He could receive a life sentence if he is convicted.