A Clark County judge Thursday ordered an evaluation by the state to determine whether Quincy Tuttle, 12, knew right from wrong when he allegedly planned to kill a student at Vancouver’s Frontier Middle School.
“Capacity” is the legal term for knowing right from wrong. The prosecution has the burden to prove capacity when a defendant is between 8 and 11 years old at the time the crime was committed , said Superior Court Judge Scott Collier. Tuttle was 11 when he allegedly brought a handgun and 400 rounds of ammunition to the school, where he was a sixth-grader.
He planned to kill a student who may have bullied his friend by calling him “gay,” according to a court affidavit.
Tuttle will be transported to the Child Study and Treatment Center in Lakewood on Tuesday and will be evaluated the same day. Center experts then will write a report about their findings.
“Given the serious nature and what’s at stake, we are going to be really cautious,” Collier said.
After that, the judge will schedule a capacity hearing, where Deputy Prosecutor Abbie Bartlett and Tuttle’s attorney, John Lutgens, will be allowed to argue over the boy’s ability to understand right from wrong.
Tuttle was arrested Oct. 23 after school officials found the handgun, ammunition and his parents’ kitchen knives in his pockets and backpack. He has been in custody at the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center since then and has not yet been arraigned on charges of attempted murder and other weapons-related offenses.
Collier on Dec. 18 found Tuttle competent to stand trial despite arguments by Lutgens that he’s too young to assist in his defense. Both competency and capacity must be established before Tuttle may be tried.
Previous testimony by the defense’s child psychologist during Tuttle’s competency hearing could have been used to consider capacity, Bartlett said. However, Lutgens indicated he would not agree to that, saying that its the state’s job to prove Tuttle knew right from wrong. Collier agreed.