Mount ClemensApril 15, 2009
Judge rejects Osantowski's parole
By Erin McClary
C & G Staff Writer
Student convicted of terrorist threat to serve
more than minimum sentence
MOUNT CLEMENS — Former Chippewa Valley High School student Andrew Osantowski, 21, has been ordered to stay in jail after a parole request for his release was denied April 20.
The ruling came on the 10-year anniversary of the infamous student attack on Columbine High School.
Osantowski has so far served the minimum of a 4 1/2- to 22-year sentence following a conviction for plotting a Columbine-style massacre at his own high school back in 2004. According to a statement from the office of Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, Osantowski was the first person in Michigan convicted of making a terrorist threat after specific laws were passed in light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was 17 years old at the time.
The Michigan Parole Board was working toward Osantowski’s release last month, citing his alleged good behavior during incarceration. At that time, Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Richard Caretti gave prosecutors more time to appeal the release. Following oral arguments between the prosecution and the Parole Board April 20, Caretti ruled in favor of the prosecution.
“On this solemn 10th anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, I applaud Judge Caretti’s decision to keep Mr. Osantowski behind bars,” Smith’s release stated. “The (defendant’s) complete lack of empathy should have been a red flag for the Parole Board.”
Russ Marlan, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Corrections, said the Parole Board plans to take Osantowski’s case to the Court of Appeals within 21 days of the ruling.
“For a judge to stop (a release) by law, they have to show that the Parole Board has abused their discretion — that’s the legal threshold he would need to block the release,” Marlan explained. “We certainly don’t agree the Parole Board abused its discretion.”
He said once a judge shows that the Parole Board has abused its discretion, the board cannot schedule another parole hearing.
In most cases — or at least in the majority of Michigan’s 25,000 parole hearings each year — it’s not uncommon for a judge to rule against the Parole Board, Marlan added. He said in this case, the board argued that Osantowski received no misconduct while he was in prison and showed a low risk for re-offense.
In September of 2004, just 11 days into his new high school, Osantowski was arrested for a plan he shared in an online chat room, detailing a massacre at his school similar to the strike on Columbine High School in 1999. Everything he said he possessed during the online chats, he actually had, police had reported.
When police raided Osantowski’s Clinton Township home, they found several books on Nazis, the Third Reich and a Nazi flag. Tools that were stolen from a construction site, an AK-47 rifle and several high-capacity magazines were also found in his possession.
Transcripts from the online chat he had with a 16-year-old Idaho girl showed Osantowski writing that he was “on the brink of mass murder” and that he will choose “who lives and who dies” on what he called “judgment day.”
Chippewa Valley received the tip about Osantowski’s plot in time to thwart an attack. The 16-year-old girl Osantowski shared his plan with told her father about their conversations. Later, the two were commended for notifying school authorities.
Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Mark Deldin said the district has “implemented many, many security measures over the years” following the plotted strike.
Although Deldin had said Osantowski never actually breached the security system at Chippewa Valley, the incident has left the district continuing to evaluate security measures to this day.
“The parents and students of Chippewa Valley High School will never forget this near tragedy,” Smith concluded.
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