Lawyers to discuss next month if Plaskon goes to trial for murder of Maren Sanchez
A meeting next month may lead to determining whether the case against Christopher Plaskon, 18, charged with murdering his fellow classmate Maren Sanchez in April 2014 at Jonathan Law High School, moves to trial or is settled with a plea agreement.
Plaskon was in court Tuesday, at which time lawyers for the prosecution and defense met with Judge Frank Iannotti to discuss proceedings. Iannotti said that on Jan. 28, lawyers will meet with a judge and discuss psychological reports and other evidence. If both sides agree that Plaskon’s medical state at the time of the murder means that the murder was not premeditated, the judge implied that a trial could be avoided.
In past months, Plaskon has undergone psychiatric evaluations by psychiatrists hired by the defense and those hired by the prosecution to compile independent reports about his mental health.
Those reports and various interviews are now complete, and Plaskon’s attorney Edward Gavin said he will be spending hours reviewing the material submitted by the prosecution, which he received this week, in preparation for the Jan. 28 court hearing.
At this point Gavin could not predict whether the two sides will be in agreement about how to proceed. He said it’s rare that doctors on both sides will have agreed on all points regarding mental impairment, but if they agree on the pertinent issues, Gavin said, “we may not need to go to trial.”
He added, however, that he and Plaskon’s other attorney, Richard Meehan, are prepared to go to trial if necessary.
State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor did not speculate either as to whether the case will move to trial, but he said it is preferable to solve cases without going to trial if it’s possible. He offered no comment when asked if the Sanchez family was pushing for a trial.
Judge Iannotti said in court Tuesday that if discussion Jan. 28 does not lead to a plea agreement, then a time frame will be set soon for a trial, which he said would probably take place in late March or April and probably take eight to 10 trial days.
Plaskon has pled not guilty to a charge of murder, and his lawyers said in the past that they expected the plea would be based on one of three forms of an insanity plea.
If the case goes to trial, it will be presented to a three-judge panel, rather than a traditional jury, because Plaskon’s lawyers said they think judges will be better equipped to understand issues surrounding mental illness.
A judge other than Iannotti will preside over the Jan. 28 hearing because if the case does go to trial, Iannotti expects to be one of the three judges on the panel.
No decision is expected on Jan. 28, however. Gavin said that after the discussion lawyers will meet with the respective families to get their input on how to proceed.
“The issue is what happened in April and if [Plaskon’s mental state] affected his ability to act,” Gavin said.
Plaskon is charged with murder, Gavin continued, stating that at issue is whether the act was premeditated. “Did he have a plan or a scheme, or was he suffering from a mental defect?” Gavin said.
Sources said Plaskon stabbed Maren in a stairwell at Jonathan Law on the morning of April 25, 2014, because she was not going to the prom with him.
An autopsy report states that Maren died of stab wounds to the trunk and neck, and her death was ruled a homicide.
Plaskon is being held at the Manson Youth Institute in Cheshire on $3-million bond. Gavin said Plaskon is “adapting well at Manson,” that he is doing his best and is being well cared for. Plaskon “absolutely” still suffers from mental impairment, Gavin said, but he added that Plaskon understands what is going on and that he is competent to stand trial.