Seth Trickey's release final, judge declares

Seth Trickey “There’s now no requirements or restrictions imposed by the court whatsoever,” his attorney said.

At 13, he shot five fellow students at Fort Gibson Middle School.

MUSKOGEE -- Seth Trickey, the Fort Gibson boy who shot and wounded five fellow classmates in 1999, is now a free man, a judge ruled Tuesday.

The 18-year-old Trickey's final release came five years, three months and 23 days after he took his father's 9 mm handgun from a backpack and opened fire at Fort Gibson Middle School. He was 13 at the time.

In truth, however, his freedom had become a foregone conclusion ever since he entered the juvenile justice system, which can hold offenders no longer than their 19th birthdays.

"It's kind of anticlimactic," Muskogee County District Judge Tom Alford said.

Trickey has been living in relative freedom with his maternal grandparents in Lawrence, Kan., since November 2003. He has been working, volunteering and attending college classes.

Juvenile officials had no legitimate reason to keep their tenuous hold on him, authorities said.

"Let me make this real simple," said his Tulsa attorney, Steven Novick. "He's 18 years old, an adult under the law. There's now no requirements or restrictions imposed by the court whatsoever.

"At this moment, Seth Trickey is no different from any other young adult in the country."

Since October, Alford had required only that Trickey report to state juvenile officers by phone monthly to talk about his progress. Trickey spent nearly four years in secured state facilities, county lockup or a private mental-health treatment center.

"He went through everything the state of Oklahoma had to offer," Novick said.

Trickey shattered the peace of his quiet hometown on the morning of Dec. 6, 1999. He stepped out onto the middle-school courtyard, pulled the Taurus pistol from his backpack and then emptied the entire clip of 15 bullets by firing at fellow students.

A 12-year-old girl, Savana Knowles, was shot in the face and spent the longest time in the hospital.

Three of Trickey's fellow seventh-graders -- Cody Chronister, Billy Railey and Brad Schindel -- were wounded in the arms or legs.

Another boy, Dakota Baker, was grazed by the bullet which passed through Chronister's arm. No one was killed in the attack.

That last point, Muskogee County District Attorney John David Luton noted, should not be overlooked.

"But for the grace of God, we could have had several dead kids," Luton said Tuesday. "Seth Trickey's life, for all intents and purposes, would have been over."

Neither Trickey nor his parents attended Tuesday's hearing.

Trickey has never publicly given a primary reason for his attacks, although he attributed his violence to family pressures, a military obsession and fascination with the Columbine school massacre, according to court records.

His future plans, his attorney said, include possibly getting a business degree and doing some kind of work related to his American Indian heritage.

"He's started his new life," Novick said. "I think the prospects for him are good."

Trickey's victims, meanwhile, are all still in high school. Knowles is a junior who plays basketball in Fort Gibson and has recovered from her facial injury. Chronister, Railey and Schindel all are seniors in Fort Gibson and are still friends, according to reports.

Several of the victims, contacted in December on the shooting's fifth anniversary, said they bear Trickey no ill will. At the same time, however, they expressed a desire to understand why the quiet honor student, whom some of them considered a friend, exploded so violently against them.

"I'd love to hear him give a reason," Knowles said in December.


Timeline for Seth Trickey

Dec. 6, 1999: The 13-year-old seventh-grade honor student pulls his father's 9 mm pistol from a backpack and begins firing at classmates in the Fort Gibson Middle School courtyard. Trickey, who followed the crowd of panicked students as he fired, used all 15 rounds in the gun and then surrendered to authorities.

Dec. 10, 1999: Muskogee County District Attorney John David Luton attempts to have Trickey tried as an adult.

March 29, 2000: Following a certification study, Associate District Judge Tom Alford rules that Trickey will remain in juvenile custody. Psychologists testify that Trickey suffered from depression, a military obsession and a fascination with the Columbine school massacre in Colorado. Trickey did not take the stand.

May 27, 2000: Alford finds Trickey guilty of six counts of shooting with intent to kill and one weapons count in the attack. He orders Trickey into Office of Juvenile Affairs custody at the L.E. Rader Center in Sand Springs.

Nov. 28, 2000: Saying that he sees "no rational option at this point," Alford orders Trickey to remain in OJA custody after his first post-conviction evaluation hearing. Trickey can remain in juvenile custody until his 19th birthday.

Oct. 4, 2002: Trickey testifies for the first time. He says he felt remorse about the shootings but was still unsure about his motivation for the attack. His father, Randall Trickey, and their new attorney, Steven Novick, ask Alford to consider sending the now 15-year-old shooter to a private treatment center in Austin, Texas. The judge declines for the time being.

April 15, 2003: Alford agrees to put Trickey in the custody of his parents so they can take him to the Oaks Residential Treatment Center in Austin. Trickey's attorney argues that the Oaks will offer more intensive therapy than the OJA can.

April 21, 2003: Trickey leaves for Texas.

June 24, 2003: Alford orders Trickey to return to Oklahoma and enter an OJA Level E group home after the Texas center determines that the teenager has no mental illness. Novick argues that Trickey should be released to his family.

Nov. 19, 2003: Despite objections from OJA officials and Muskogee County prosecutors, Trickey is released to his maternal grandparents, Robert and Marilyn Martin, in Lawrence, Kan., where he will be minimally supervised by Kansas authorities. Alford rules that Trickey cannot stay in Oklahoma even for one night.

Oct. 26, 2004: Trickey is released from Kansas custody, although he will remain with his grandparents. Alford rules that he will report to OJA until his 18th birthday, when he is to report monthly to the judge.

Dec. 2, 2004: Trickey turns 18.

March 29: Judge Alford gives Trickey his outright release.


Rod Walton 581-8457

rod.walton@tulsaworld.com