START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
Mar 1, 2007

We need more signatures to help support John Odgren. A 16 year old boy with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of High Functioning Autism, is being tried with the 1st degree premeditated murder of a classmate. In the state of Massachusetts anything above a manslaughter charge, kids 14 and up must be tried as an adult. This is unfair for many reasons, 1. People with AS tend to have an overall mentality of a younger kid than their own age. This is not IQ wise, for example; I am 23 years old, have AS, but my overall mentality has been rated at that of a 5-7 year olds.
2. People with AS aren't good at planning ahead, which is what he's being charged with.
3. His disabilities aren't being taken in to context even.
4. Unfortunately, many people with AS have had problems with the law. (this is the first death I've heard of.) For someone diagnosed with AS life is difficult, especially in school. Due to the lack of understanding in the school systems about AS, even with an I.E.P. a student with AS will most likely have problems. For example: I was diagnosed in 6th grade, a few months into the middle school year, my mother's co-workers (she was teaching in the middle school at that time) suggested that she take me to Arkansas Children's Hospital to see what was wrong with me because I cried alot, couldn't use normal pencils, ect. When we came back and I had a full diagnoses, they told her, infront of me, that I didn't have autism I was just a spoiled brat.
5. The teasing, taunting, and other things that go on with the AS student tend to be ignored by schools. Having lived it myself, and talking to many parents of AS children, it seems that they don't care that an AS child is being put under a lot of stress due to the teasing. It always seems to be the "perfectly good" students that are doing the teasing, reporting them to an administrator does no good.  A good example is "I didn't see and/or hear it so it didn't happen." This was often the case for me. As for I.E.P's many seem to be under the impression that since it's "high functioning" that there's no reason the child should have special accomodations. In high school I was provided with a portable word processor from a support network (nothing to do with the school) and my I.E.P said I was supposed to be able to use it to type up my work in classes, ect. The teachers didn't want to let me do it because it would be "unfair" to the other students.
All of these things are a high factor in situations of people with AS getting in to a high amount of trouble. Please don't mistake this as me saying "People with AS will always misbehave or do something criminal". That is not the case. But all these factors together end in the child being under stress in school situations, and when something like a fight breaks out, there is no real thinking. It's a let it happen or do something. In my case, when I finally got beat up, I didn't fight back because the entire school didn't like me and I was more worried about getting expelled or something. Yet, I got suspended for the incident, even though I had a bloody nose, hair falling out, and a bloody shoe sole imprint in my arm. The other student didn't even have a scratch from me. And now this incident has happened. This in all likely hood is what accumulated until the boy, under stress and in a fight, did something in the heat of the moment. Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT saying he doesn't know what he did or that he shouldn't be punished, if I thought he didn't know or mean to do that I would call it involuntary manslaughter. Please help stand up for this young man's rights and letting him know, that, even though it was a terrible thing that happened, he has people behind him, supporting him, even if that support is still getting him charged with something, it shows to him, his family, and other's around the world with AS and other forms of autism, that people understand these building circumstances that lead to bad incidents. If the schools won't listen, understand, or help the students with HFA (high functioning autism)when the teasing and taunting first starts, another incident like this could happen again.

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Posted: Thursday March 1, 2007, 6:13 am
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Rebecca Selfridge (3)
Wednesday March 7, 2007, 9:57 am
There is NO way this was involuntary manslaughter. According to the Boston Herald, "A number of violent episodes at the regional high school involving Odgren ... preceded the brutal attack." and "Two days before Alenson died, Odgren allegedly brought a screwdriver to school and told one student, “ ‘I wouldn’t aggravate me right now. Don’t worry. I’ve decided not to kill you,’ ” Bennett said. (Bennett is the ADA associated with the case.) Odgren had (allegedly) also brought a screwdriver to school and chased other students weilding a glass shard prior to attacking 15 year old James Alenson.
I'd like to ask you, Terry Dover, what if James Alenson were your son? Or your cousin, or brother? He was a 15 year old thin, soft spoken freshman who, as far as we know, did nothing to provoke Odgren. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. His family deserves justice. He deserves justice.

While I agree that Odgren needs help, I also agree that he should be tried as an adult. He can still get a psychiatric evaluation at an adult facility - in fact, he is, according to the Herald. "Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein ordered Odgren be transferred from a Department of Youth Services facility to a secure juvenile psychiatric unit at Westboro State Hospital for a 20-day evaluation."


Terry Dover
female, age 31, single
Neosho, MO, USA
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I'd like to ask that people continue to come and sign the petition for John to be tried as a Juvenile. I am still working outside of the petition to do what I can, but every signature in the petition helps too. I have mono acting up and other...

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