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Hill bound for youth correctional facility

Judge John Collins remands Jacob Hill to custody of the Oregon Youth Authority and recommends placement in a youth correctional facility

McMINNVILLE — Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge John Collins made a disposition ruling Friday in the case of Jacob Hill, the 17-year old who Collins found culpable on three charges in connection with a planned shooting at Newberg High School, remanding him to the custody of the Oregon Youth Authority and recommending that he be placed in a secured youth correctional facility. FILE PHOTO - Judge John Collins remands Jacob Hill to custody of the Oregon Youth Authority and recommends placement in a youth correctional facility

Hill will now be subject to the authority of the OYA until he turns 26 years old, but Collins made a point of telling Hill directly that it would be up to him how much time he spent in a lock-down correctional facility.

“You could slip up and mess that up,” Collins told Hill. “But I’m confident you won’t.”

While assistant district attorney Michael Videtich, who tried the case, and the county juvenile department advocated placement in a secured youth correctional facility, defense attorney Paula Lawrence argued that was not in Hill’s best interest, instead pushing for placement in a community-based program.

She asked that Collins direct the OYA to find an appropriate community-based placement capable of delivering treatment for both Hill’s mental health and substance abuse issues, not just drug rehabilitation.

Defense expert witness and licensed psychologist Dr. Robert Stanulis testified that despite numerous references to “emotional disturbance” in his records and evaluations, Hill suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder after enduring severe abuse as a young child, but that it had essentially gone undiagnosed and untreated.

A community-based placement was more appropriate, Lawrence argued, because not only has incarceration been proven to be more detrimental in general, but specifically Hill has already demonstrated that lock-down situations exacerbate his problems because they are directly related to the abuse he suffered as a child.

In his ruling, Collins made it clear that he had been swayed by some of Lawrence’s arguments and agreed with Stanulis’ characterization of Hill as a “trauma youth,” but that the biggest issue he had to consider was the risk to the public, noting that the risk for great harm in the future was high and therefore a secure option was required in the case.

He did, however, direct the OYA that Hill receive, foremost, trauma-informed treatment, as well as drug abuse treatment.

“In cases like this you are never happy at the end because it’s not a happy thing,” Videtich said. “It’s just you got the right result that you needed to get to protect the community and give this kid the best chance moving forward. It’s not a happy moment. It’s just more of a relief that the right thing happened.”

Collins gave Hill, who had been found “in the jurisdiction of the court” on two counts of attempted assault and one count of attempted unlawful use of a firearm, the opportunity to speak after presenting his ruling.

“Coming into the courtroom today, I expected to be sad and heartbroken about this, but what I have been wanting most for three and a half months is to move on,” Hill said. “Thank you for allowing me to move on so I may go somewhere else to get help and make steps in the right direction.”

After the conclusion of the proceedings, Hill was allowed, for the first time in the courtroom, to turn around and address his friends and family. A smile came quickly to his face as he expressed his gratitude for their support over the last three and a half months.

“It’s okay,” Hill said. “It sucks that it had to work out this way, but I’m really okay. I’m going to get some help. Maybe I can find some true happiness now. Thank you for your support. You will always be in my heart.”

Hill’s mother, Heather, said she was proud of how he handled himself both in speaking to the judge and in how he reassured his friends and family.

“That’s Jacob. That’s what he does,” Heather Hill said. “He tries to comfort everybody and make everybody feel good about what’s going on.”

Collins told Hill he expects he will first be moved to Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility in Salem. A member of the juvenile department later added that Hill would be transferred out of the county facility on Monday or Tuesday.

“I’m happy for Jacob right now,” Heather Hill said. “All he’s wanted is to get out of this juvenile place because he can’t go outside, he can’t breathe fresh air. The frustration that we’ve felt for the last two and a half months is that we knew what the outcome was going to be and he’s still just sitting there longer than anybody else.”