A student accused of fatally stabbing a 16-year-old girl at a high school in Milford on their prom day is currently under psychiatric evaluation and could be charged as a adult.
The suspect was supposed to make a court appearance Monday. However, his attorneys said that's on hold until he gets out of the hospital.
"I would imagine lawyers for both sides would be there, although whether anything serious will happen isn't entirely clear since I understand the boy is now in psychiatric evaluation and will probably be there for about two weeks," said Quinnipiac Law Professor William Dunlap. "It's unlikely the court will take any action until then."
Dunlap said the evaluation was to make sure the suspect didn't harm himself and to see if he's competent to stand trial.
"I think it's in everyone's best interest to get a psychiatric evaluation here," he said. "They may be wanting to find out whether there is a possibility, what they frequently call an 'insanity defense,' but really a question if there is a mental defect that could have caused him to do this."
The fatal stabbing happened at the Jonathan Law High School on Lansdale Avenue on Friday morning.
"There was a teacher who actually walked upon it and saw a portion of it," said Milford Police Chief Keith Mello.
The victim, 16-year-old junior Maren Sanchez, was found with severe neck injuries in a stairwell by a staff member at 7:14 a.m.
"I saw the teachers and one teacher was hysterical," said eyewitness Rebecca Golden.
The school nurse along with other staff members attempted lifesaving measures on Sanchez, Mello said.
She was transported to Bridgeport Hospital where the student was pronounced dead just before 7:45 a.m., police said.
On Saturday, the office of the chief medical examiner determined the cause of death was stab wounds to the neck and body.
"The unprovoked attack on Maren has, unfortunately for our family, resulted in the permanent loss of Maren Victoria Sanchez - a bright light full of hopes and dreams with her future at her fingertips," said the victim's cousin Edward Kovac.
The entire school was deemed a crime scene Friday, police said. Police talked to students who saw what happened and checked video inside the school all day.
The knife used in the stabbing was seized by police. Investigators also obtained a warrant to search the suspect's home.
State Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-14, said she spoke with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is heartbroken by the fatal stabbing. He is offering to help Milford and the school with any resources necessary.
"Our hearts go out to the family of Maren Sanchez, the 16-year-old junior at Jonathan Law High School who passed away this morning, and to those also affected by this tragedy," said Milford Mayor Benjamin G. Blake.
Sanchez's wake will be held at Cody-White Funeral Home, which is on Broad Street, on May 1 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The Associated Press is identifying the suspect as 16-year-old Christopher Plaskon.
According to students at Jonathan Law High School, Plaskon had asked Sanchez to the prom, and she said no because she was looking forward to going with her boyfriend. Police said they are looking into that as a possible motive, but would not confirm it to Eyewitness News.
Police also would not comment on the relationship between the suspect and Sanchez.
Police and city officials "assured" all residents that it was "an isolated incident" between two students that happened inside the building.
The suspect, who is also a junior at the Jonathan Law High School, "is under psychiatric evaluation at a hospital and is being evaluated," according to one of his attorneys Edward Gavin.
Police said the suspect has been charged with as a juvenile offender and was scheduled to be arraigned at juvenile court in New Haven on Monday.
Gavin said that the suspect will not be in court on Monday because of the evaluation.
"The Milford Superior Court will follow up with a determination if the case will be handled as a juvenile or adult proceeding," police said in a statement Friday.
As for being charged as an adult, Gavin said, "that's a call for the prosecutors to make."
The attorney also expressed his sympathies to the victim's family when he talked to Eyewitness News on Saturday.
"We know they've suffered a tremendous loss, and thought and prayers are with the Sanchez family," Gavin said.
Sanchez was called a "vibrant" honors student and a "well-liked" tennis player, during a news conference Friday morning.
"We are obviously devastated by the loss of one of our students, Maren Sanchez. She was a 16-year-old junior, vibrant, very involved in Jonathan Law High School," said Milford Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Feser.
Junior prom was supposed to happen Friday night, but school officials said they have postponed it along with all other activities this weekend to a later date.
School officials also confirmed that classes have been canceled on Monday.
"Maren should be celebrating at her prom this evening with her friends and classmates. Instead, we are mourning her death," Kovac said.
Jonathan Law High School students attended a candlelight vigil held in Sanchez's honor at Walnut Beach. Students dressed in tuxes and prom dresses at the vigil and also brought Maren's prom dress with them.
Classmates spent the day dropping off flowers, many wore purple ribbons as a sign of support and therapy dogs on hand to help students through the difficult time.
A makeshift memorial was set up for Sanchez at the school's gym. Students were seen bringing in corsages and flowers. They also painted a rock on the school grounds purple with the writing "8/26/97 Maren."
Grief counselors were at the school for students and staff all weekend. Even though classes are canceled on Monday, grief counselors will be available to students from noon to 5 p.m. on Monday.
"These families are suffering," said Ferrara. "Maren's family and the other boy's family as well. This affects everyone, it's rough."
Besides classes being canceled, sporting events and extracurricular activities will also be canceled, according to the school's newspaper.
There will also be a vigil on the football field at 7 p.m. on Monday.
The Jonathan Law High School production of Little Shop of Horrors will go on as scheduled Friday and Saturday, drama advisor Michael Mele announced Sunday. Mele added the play will be in honor of Sanchez, who was a member of the production.
"Maren was a passionate and enthusiastic member of the drama club and was slated to be in this production before her unfortunate death," Mele said in a news release.
There are already plans to memorialize Sanchez in the works.
The story of the stabbing has spread through social media. The search term #RIPMarenSanchez was trending on Twitter on Friday morning.
"Deeply saddened to hear of the tragedy in Milford. A young student lost her life too soon. My thoughts are with the Milford community," U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal tweeted.
Students at neighboring Joseph A. Foran High School made a Youtube video in support of their friends at Jonathan Law High School.
"We're here for you....We will get through this together," the Foran High School students said in the Youtube video.
Eyewitness News obtained a Youtube video of Sanchez performing the song "Home" on stage.
"Know you're not alone, I'm going to make this place your home," Sanchez sang.
Phillip Phillips, who is the American Idol winner that sang Home, tweeted about the stabbing.
"I am so sad to hear of the tragic death of Maren Sanchez. My thoughts and prayers are with her family," Phillip Phillips tweeted.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro urged residents and students "who needs these resources to take advantage of them."
"I was saddened to learn of this morning's tragic events at Jonathan Law High School and the death of Maren Sanchez. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends as they deal with this terrible heartbreak," DeLauro said in a statement Friday.
School's reaction to stabbing will be evaluated
The school was locked down immediately after the stabbing. Police said they worked with the board of education to dismiss students shortly after the lockdown.
The school resource officer was notified about the incident, took the suspect into custody and brought him to the office.
Feser told Eyewitness News they recently started using school resource officers after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 first-graders and six staff members lost their lives Dec. 14, 2012.
The school administration and police will be going over what happened very closely to see if this could have been prevented.
The flag was at half-staff at the Jonathan Law High School on Friday evening.
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