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TRUMBULL COUNTY Psychological testing sought for teen in explosives case



Published: Tue, February 19, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defense attorney says she believes her client should remain in the juvenile justice system.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A defense attorney says she is hoping a judge in Trumbull County Juvenile Court will order psychological testing for her 17-year-old client accused of taking explosives to school last week.

Maridee Costanzo, a public defender representing Timothy Ben Cook of State Road, Champion, said Monday that during today's hearing she will ask the judge to order psychological testing for the boy.

"My main concern is that he gets the help he needs as soon as possible," Costanzo said. "I would also like a drug and alcohol assessment performed on him as well."

Costanzo said she does not know if her client has a mental illness.

Champion police said Cook brought two sticks of an explosive device to Champion High School on Thursday. Officials said Cook told them he planned to set off the devices after school.

Costanzo noted that she is also going to urge the judge not to order that Cook be tried as an adult.

"He should definitely stay in the juvenile system," Costanzo said.

During today's hearing, the judge was to explain the charges to Cook, and he will be allowed to enter a plea.

Charges: Assistant prosecutor Stanley Elkins said Cook is charged with one count of assault on a school administrator, one count of conveyance of a dangerous ordnance on school property and two counts of unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance -- one count stemming from Thursday and one from when police say he was caught last month with explosive materials.

Officials did not explain the assault charge but have said a struggle took place Thursday when school administrators confronted Cook.

He faces up to six months on each charge, authorities said.

Champion Police Chief Dennis Steinbeck has declined to specify the explosive but said it is equivalent to two sticks of dynamite.

Father called police: Police received a call Thursday morning from Cook's father saying that a gun was missing from the home and that he was worried his son may have taken it to school.

School officials said they confronted the teen about the gun and found the explosives in his coat.

Last month, police said, Cook and a 16-year-old friend took an explosive material from Cook's garage. The mother of Cook's friend found the material in the trunk of her car and called police.

Police said the two teen-agers told them at the time that they were going to blow up a tree stump but realized the explosive might have been too dangerous, so they put it in the trunk of the car.

Steinbeck said that Cook's father used to work in coal mines and had explosives stored in his garage but that he didn't know they were still there.

Champion police, the Trumbull County Sheriff's Department, Youngstown Bomb Squad and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms searched the school for more explosives for about 90 minutes but found nothing, officials said.

The school was evacuated Thursday, and students were sent home early.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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