Mattoon High School shooting

A police car blocks traffic outside Mattoon High School on Sept. 20 after a shooting in the school cafeteria. The case against suspect Josiah Lyons, 15, is pending. 

CHARLESTON — The next court hearing for Mattoon High School shooting suspect Josiah J. Lyons could determine if he'll face the possibility of an adult prison sentence.

The hearing was scheduled during a court appearance Thursday for the 15-year-old accused of shooting another student at the school on Sept. 20.

The July 6 hearing will be for the prosecution's motion to allow a sentence in the adult prison system for Lyons if he's convicted but doesn't successfully complete his time in juvenile detention.

Coles County State's Attorney Brian Bower filed the motion that, if granted, would allow Lyons the option of a jury trial. Lyons is charged in juvenile court, where cases are otherwise limited to a trial before a judge.

It would also mean the court proceedings would be open to the public, which isn't usually allowed for juvenile cases.

Otherwise, if Lyons is convicted of a juvenile offense, he could only be detained in an Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice facility until he reaches the age of 21, at the most.

Lyons is charged with aggravated battery with a firearm. For the adult equivalent of that offense, a prison sentence of six to 30 years is required with a conviction.

The only other matter addressed during Thursday's hearing was Circuit Judge Matt Sullivan's agreeing to cancel an order for Lyons to be evaluated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Defense attorney Ed Piraino got Sullivan's approval for the evaluation in April, which Piraino said would determine if Lyons could be placed in a DCFS facility for treatment of his mental conditions.

Piraino also earlier got Sullivan's authorization for an evaluation by the Illinois Department of Human Services. On Thursday, however, he said neither state agency has indicated a willingness to evaluate Lyons.

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Piraino showed frustration when he explained the obstacles to having Lyons evaluated for a placement in a facility that could provide the appropriate treatment.

According to testimony at an earlier hearing from a psychiatrist who examined Lyons, a secure facility such as those of the state agencies could address the mental health issues he diagnosed in Lyons.

Though he granted the motions for the evaluations, in both instances Sullivan denied requests to have Lyons transferred to either state agency while his case is pending.

According to the examining psychiatrist's testimony at an earlier hearing, Lyons got in a fight with a girl at the high school a week before the shooting.

That led him to decide to take a gun from his home to school and "shoot her in the head" when he saw her again, as the psychiatrist, Lawrence Jeckel, described it.

Lyons said after he didn't see the girl in the school's cafeteria as he expected, he decided to "go down shooting," according to Jeckel.

That's when he drew the gun and aimed it at another student, only to miss because he was subdued by teacher Angela McQueen, Jeckel said. One student was hit by one shot but has reportedly recovered.

Jeckel testified that his examination of Lyons showed that he suffers from a defiance disorder and other conditions for which he can't be treated at the Juvenile Justice Department.

He said Lyons' actions were partly because of "perceived bullying" but he also acts as a bully himself.


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