Madison students charged for not reporting crime enter pleas

Two Madison Jr./Sr. High School students answered "true" when asked Tuesday afternoon about the "failure to report a crime" charges they faced in connection with a Butler County school shooting.

Both students are allowed to return to school this fall, their cell phones — confiscated by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office during the investigation of the school shooting Feb. 29 — will be returned and they will have their deposition hearings in October.

The boys were charged after investigators determined they knew Austin Hancock, 15, a Madison Jr./Sr. High School eighth-grader, brought a loaded gun to school on Feb. 29 and they failed to tell authorities. The boys said they saw Hancock’s gun several times the day of the shooting, according to a police investigation.

The hearings, held separately, lasted about 10 minutes each, and were delayed about an hour while the attorneys met with the families to discuss their legal options.

Butler County Juvenile Court Magistrate Patricia Wilkerson told the juveniles that by answering “true” to the fourth-degree misdemeanor charges, they were relinquishing their rights to a trial. The boys showed little emotion and politely answered each time Wilkerson asked a question.

One of the boy’s mothers, sitting in the back of the room, wept throughout the hearing and was handed a tissue by a court employee.

Hancock, who entered a true plea in April to four counts of attempted murder and inducing panic, was sentenced to juvenile detention until he is 21 years old. He will be free at age 21 unless he causes problems in juvenile custody, which could lead to possible time in the adult prison system.

Two students in the cafeteria were hit by bullets from Hancock's gun — 15-year-old Cameron Smith and 14-year-old Cooper Caffrey — and two others were injured while escaping — 15-year-old Brant Murray and 14-year-old Katherine Douchette. The students are recovering.

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