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Closing arguments expected Tuesday in trial of Iowa student accused of attempted murder

12-year-old pointed loaded gun at Scott County teacher

Luke Andrews, 13, is on trial for allegedly bringing a loaded gun to North Scott Junior High School in Eldridge the morning of Aug. 31, 2018. He allegedly pointed the gun in a teacher’s face and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire. At the time of the incident, he was 12. Andrews is charged with attempted murder, carrying weapons on school grounds, and assault while using or displaying a dangerous weapon. (Kevin Schmidt/Quad-City Times)
Luke Andrews, 13, is on trial for allegedly bringing a loaded gun to North Scott Junior High School in Eldridge the morning of Aug. 31, 2018. He allegedly pointed the gun in a teacher’s face and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire. At the time of the incident, he was 12. Andrews is charged with attempted murder, carrying weapons on school grounds, and assault while using or displaying a dangerous weapon. (Kevin Schmidt/Quad-City Times)

DAVENPORT — The trial of 13-year-old Luke Andrews, accused of trying to shoot a North Scott Junior High School teacher in late August, is nearing its final stages.

Assistant Scott County Attorney Julie Walton rested her case Monday morning. She called 19 witnesses over three days of testimony.

Closing arguments are set to begin Tuesday.

Defense attorneys Melanie Thwing and Meenakshi Brandt also rested their case Monday without calling any witnesses — including Andrews — or presenting evidence.

The burden of proof is on the state, and defendants do not have to present any witnesses or testify. Andrews is being tried in adult court as a youthful offender on charges of attempted murder, carrying weapons on school grounds, and assault while using or displaying a dangerous weapon.

If convicted, he will be under the supervision of the juvenile court until just before his 18th birthday. The case then will be remanded to adult court, where a judge could impose a prison sentence or dismiss the case, among other sentencing options.

Prosecutors say that on Aug. 31, Andrews, then 12, was armed with a loaded Smith & Wesson .22-caliber pistol that he took from his parent’s gun cabinet.

According to witness testimony, the boy showed up late to seventh-grade social studies teacher Dawn Spring’s classroom at the school in Eldridge, dropped some belongings and produced a gun.

Kaitlyn MacDonald, a student teacher, testified that Andrews pointed the gun at her and said: “I need everybody to get down.” Spring’s back was to Andrews, and MacDonald said she called her name to get her attention.

Spring testified that when she turned around, the boy had the gun pointed at the classroom of students. At one point, the two were facing each other and were 3 to 4 feet apart when Andrews raised the gun to her face and pulled the trigger. The gun did not go off.

Spring said she batted the gun away, and he returned it to her face two or three times before she was able to get him out of the classroom and to the office of school guidance counselor Holly Leinhauser, who eventually wrestled the gun away from Andrews.

Eldridge Police Sgt. Joseph Sisler testified Monday that he later asked Andrews at the police station why he did what he did. The boy replied that he didn’t know, Sisler said.

A forensic computer examiner from the Davenport Police Department testified that a search of the internet history of a desktop computer seized from Andrews’ home showed searches for how a gun works and where the safety is on a pistol.

Eldridge police Officer Jack Schwertman testified he found a gun cabinet that contained six firearms — including shotguns — inside his parents’ bedroom. The case for the Smith & Wesson that the boy took to the junior high was found next to the cabinet, Schwertman said.

Brandt said in her closing arguments that although Andrews made the horrible decision to take a gun to school that day, he did not intend to kill anyone and that this was attention-seeking behavior.

After Walton rested Monday, Thwing made a motion for a judgment of acquittal on the attempted murder and assault charges and argued that the state did not that Andrews intended to either hurt or murder anyone.

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Seventh Judicial District Chief Judge Marlita Greve denied the motion and said there was enough evidence to show that he displayed a weapon toward someone in a threatening manner.

On the attempted murder charge, Greve pointed to testimony that Andrews wanted to “end it” and anyone who got in his way indicated that he had the intent to kill someone.

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