Hribal aimed to kill in Franklin Regional school stabbing spree, Westmoreland DA Peck argues
Westmoreland County Judge Christopher Feliciani has all the legal arguments he’ll get to decide whether the Franklin Regional student accused of stabbing 20 students and a security guard at the high school two years ago will have his case moved to juvenile court.
Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck filed the final paperwork outlining his case to keep Alex Hribal in adult court Wednesday. The defense filed its argument to move the case to juvenile court in February.
Hribal meant to kill the students and security guard, but “only by the grace of God did that not occur,” Peck said in his 20-page document.
Hribal was 16 when police said he wildly swung two kitchen butcher knives at students and the security guard in the hallway of the school on April 9, 2014. He is charged as an adult with 21 counts of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.
Because Hribal, now 18, could be held only until he turns 21 in the juvenile court system, he would end up serving less than five years in custody for the attacks, Peck said.
The “well-planned and carried out indiscriminate attack … warrants more than a total of 4 1⁄2 years incarceration,” Peck said in the filing.
“That Alex Hribal would only serve 4½ years after the physical and psychological harm he inflicted would depreciate the cold and heartless attack of Hribal and the harm done to innocent students and a security guard who did nothing to provoke or deserve the attack upon them,” Peck wrote.
The DA argued that Hribal planned the attacks well in advance and at one point pulled a fire alarm to lure more students into the hallway.
Six students testified during court hearings to suffering knife wounds during the attack. Some were hospitalized for weeks, and many say they still suffer from flashbacks and physical scars, according to the court filing.
Teachers and administrators who intervened testified that they, too, continue to experience flashbacks, Peck noted in the filing.
“The impact of the offenses on the community … highlights the extreme seriousness and callousness of the offenses and heavily weighs in favor of denying decertification of this case,” Peck argued. “Students depart their homes each morning expecting to be in a safe school environment (and) parents send their children to schools expecting … their children to be as safe as they are in their homes. Such expectations were brutally and violently shattered by Alex Hribal on April 9, 2014.”
Hribal’s attorney, Patrick J. Thomassey of Monroe-ville, in his brief states that although the victims’ injuries were serious and some are still “haunted” by memories of the April 2014 stabbings, “Fortuitously … there were no deaths resulting from the incident.”
His brief states that the testimony given by victims during the hearings indicates they have moved on.
Hribal has been in the Westmoreland County jail without bail since turning 18 in October.
Liz Zemba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.