The attorney representing a former Howell High School student accused of making a terrorism threat on Twitter says his client has “suffered his whole life.”
Southfield defense attorney Neil Rockind will appear with his client, Scott Richard Parker, this afternoon in Livingston County District Court for a conference, which had initially been set for Wednesday. He declined to comment Thursday on the nature of his request.
It is expected, however, that Rockind will seek a mental evaluation for his client, who is charged with four counts of making a threat of terrorism for tweeting a comment about “killing kids” on Twitter. The statement was tagged with Howell Public Schools’ @HowellMISchools, posting it to their Twitter feed.
“What I can tell you is things have happened to Scott that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy,” Rockind said. “He has suffered his whole life: The victim of a botched birth procedure, suffering limited emotional and psychological functioning, and as he got older, even worse things happened to him.
“While the phrase ‘diminished capacity’ has been watered down, it is perfectly appropriate for Scott. Despite his age, Scott is a child,” the attorney added. “He has the developmental level of a child, along with a child’s IQ. There is no place in the penal or legal system for him. I have long believed that the legal system protects people like Scott and have every expectation that it will do so again in this case.”’
Livingston County Prosecutor William Vailliencourt said at the arraignment that he would discuss the next step, which could include a psychiatry evaluation, with Parker’s attorney once hired.
Rockind said the defense understands the serious nature of the threat, but Parker “posed no threat of harm to anyone” and he believes others will see that as the case unfolds.
Parker, who is being held on a $750,000 bond, faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted as charged.
Authorities have not disclosed the full content of the tweet or what prompted it, but the prosecutor did say at Parker’s arraignment that the tweet involved four Howell-area schools.
The schools were not identified in open court, but the felony complaint filed by the prosecutor’s office lists administrators from Howell High School and the Howell High School Freshman Campus as well as Southwest Elementary School.
Parker’s mother, Denise Canelopoulos, has said her son has the mental capacity of a 6- or 7-year-old child. She said her son could not carry out any alleged threat because he has cerebral palsy, which has caused a deformity to his hand and feet, and he is unable to drive. He also has no access to weapons, she said.
“They got it all wrong. He’s not a terrorist,” Canelopoulos said. “He wouldn’t have followed through with it. … He had no intentions of ever hurting anyone. I don’t think he realized when he wrote whatever he did.”
via Livingston Daily