HARTFORD, Conn. >> A teenager charged with stabbing a fellow high school student to death on the day of their junior prom is being held in a hospital under psychiatric evaluation where he will likely remain for two weeks, one of his attorneys said Saturday.
The name of the 16-year-old suspect was not officially released but people who saw him taken into custody identified him as Chris Plaskon, a friend of the victim’s and an athlete described as genial and respectful.
Plaskon is accused of stabbing to death Maren Sanchez, 16, in the hallway of Jonathan Law High School in Milford. The attack occurred Friday morning, hours before the school’s junior prom, and authorities were investigating whether Sanchez was stabbed after turning down his invitation to the dance.
The suspect, who is charged as a juvenile offender, will not appear at an arraignment scheduled for Monday in New Haven, attorney Richard Meehan said. The hospital commitment can last for up to 15 days, according to Meehan. He said doctors typically order such involuntary commitments in cases where someone in custody is considered a danger to himself.
Meehan said the suspect’s family is also reeling from the attack.
“His family is devastated not only for him, but the youngster who was killed. It’s a terrible situation all the way around,” Meehan said.
His client is expected to be charged as an adult, but he would need to appear in court for that to happen, Meehan said. State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor said several factors go into that decision, including the seriousness of the charges.
Mark Robinson, a technical education teacher, said he was walking into the high school Friday when he saw Plaskon being taken out in handcuffs. He said Plaskon, the third of five brothers, was on football teams that he coached when Plaskon was a freshman and sophomore. He said Plaskon has a good sense of humor and the family has deep roots in the community.
“There’s no reason to suspect he would have done this. I think that’s what makes it harder,” Robinson said.
Imani Langston, a student who saw Plaskon being read his rights and taken away in a police car, said he is known to be a class clown and had never been violent. She said Sanchez and the boy were just friends and had never dated.
Police said they were looking into reports from students that the suspect had asked Sanchez to prom and were examining whether a rejection prompted the attack, but they have not offered a motive for the killing.
“It’s all being investigated,” Officer Jeffrey Nielsen, a spokesman for Milford police, said Saturday. “We don’t work off speculation. We work on facts.”
Sanchez, a member of the National Honor Society who was active in drama and other school activities, had been focused on prom in the days before she was killed. She had posted on Facebook a photograph of herself wearing a blue prom dress and was looking forward to attending with a new boyfriend.
At school Thursday, Sanchez and a friend talked excitedly about their plans for the upcoming dance.
“We were just laughing, talking about what we were going to do when we got there, how many pictures we were going to take,” Langston said.
The dance was postponed indefinitely and students instead gathered Friday night for a candlelight vigil, with counselors on hand for anyone who needed them.
Michael Mele, the school’s drama adviser, said he knows Plaskon from classes and seeing him in hallways.
“He always came across to me as a very respectful student,” he said. “I mean, clearly, something snapped.”
Associated Press writer Pat Eaton-Robb contributed to this report.