Bridgeport attorney Richard Meehan said on Saturday that the teen — identified by sources as Chris Plaskon of Milford — will not appear in juvenile court in New Haven on Monday and will remain at a medical facility, where he is being held on a “15-day emergency commitment.”
Meehan would not confirm the teen’s name.
Meehan said that after the commitment, which could last up to 15 days or fewer, the teen’s case will be transferred to Superior Court in Milford, where he will be charged as an adult. He said the teen is being evaluated but would not say what specifically he is being treated for by doctors.
Milford police Chief Keith Mello said the 16-year-old is in a medical facility under suicide watch.
Sanchez, 16, was stabbed to death in a school hallway on Friday morning, the day of the junior prom. Police are investigating whether Plaskon had wanted to take her to the junior prom.
The office of the chief medical examiner confirmed that Sanchez died of stab wounds to the torso and neck and that the death was a homicide.
Plaskon is now charged with murder as a juvenile offender.
Meehan said he could object to the transfer of the teen’s case to adult court but called such a legal move “an empty act,” since a judge’s decision will be based on Connecticut’s laws for serious juvenile offenders. The law says “the court shall automatically transfer from the docket for juvenile matters to the regular criminal docket of the Superior Court the case of any child charged with” murder.
“Such counsel may appear with the child but shall not be permitted to make any argument or file any motion in opposition to the transfer,” the law states.
A prosecutor can request that a transferred case return to juvenile court but such a move is unlikely when the charge is murder.
“We will be making the appropriate decisions on venue and how the case will proceed at the earliest on Monday,” State’s Attorney Kevin D. Lawlor said Saturday.
Meehan said the suspect’s family is devastated.
“This is a wonderful family just as the Sanchez family is, and they are devastated not only for this young man but also for Maren Sanchez’s family,” Meehan said. “This is a horrific tragedy for all of them.”
Sanchez, who lived with her mother, Donna Cimarelli-Sanchez, was stabbed at about 7:15 a.m. on Friday. A staff member witnessed part of the assault, Mello said, and tried to help. Others joined the effort, and EMS personnel soon arrived to take Sanchez to Bridgeport Hospital. She was pronounced dead at 7:43 a.m., Mello said.
“There was blood on her neck. It was awful,” said Sam Garcia, a junior at the school, as he walked home. “I saw the girl lying on the stretcher when they took her out.”
Police said that Sanchez suffered multiple cuts to her neck, chest and face. Investigators recovered a knife at the scene.
A Jonathan Law senior, Rebecca Golden, said she was on the stairs when she looked down and saw someone on the floor. She said she could only see the legs and thought it was a boy. Several teachers were there and one of them was crying and hysterical, she said.
“I tried to look but they just pushed me out,” Golden said.
Mello, the police chief, said he had heard rumors that Sanchez had declined an invitation to the prom from the suspect, but he could not confirm whether that was the case.
Several students said Saturday that they also heard that the assault began after Sanchez refused to attend the prom with Plaskon.
One student, another junior who asked that his name be withheld, said that Plaskon was “not easy to really know” but that Sanchez had reached out to him.
“She was always nice to him, I mean she was nice to everyone,” the student said, standing outside the high school on Saturday. “Maybe he saw it as something else.”
“I don’t know why he’d flip out,” Golden said. “It’s just a dance.”
A Jonathan Law parent said Friday that Sanchez had “a steady boyfriend who was always going to go to the prom with her. That was a given.”
The parent, who asked not be be identified, said his daughter suspects Maren was targeted because she was attentive to Plaskon.
“She wouldn’t be surprised that this kid got fixated on Maren because she was the only one to lend an ear over the years,” he said.
Authorities made no comment Saturday on Plaskon’s possible motive. Police said the prom request rumor remains under investigation.
The junior prom had been scheduled to begin at a banquet hall in nearby Stratford at 7 p.m. on Friday. Officials said prom will be rescheduled, but several students arrived at a vigil at Walnut Beach on Friday night wearing their dresses and tuxedos. The students took a group photo, holding Sanchez’ dress up for camera.
Students said Saturday that she will be their prom queen.
Other students described Plaskon as a smart, ordinary kid. Others who knew him said they saw no sign that he would become violent.
“I still have a hard time believing it,” one girl said Saturday. “I didn’t think he was that sort of person.”
Counselors and staff were to be on hand through the weekend for any students, staff, alumni or community members in need of support.
The high school’s student newspaper said on Twitter Saturday that classes would be canceled on Monday, but that counselors would be available at the school from 12 to 5 p.m. that day. A vigil is scheduled on the football field at 7 p.m. on Monday.
Students, teachers and others painted a rock outside the school purple on Friday, adding Sanchez’s first name and her birth date, Aug. 26, 1997. They also painted a large, white heart on the rock.
On Saturday, city residents gathered at the makeshift memorial, whether or not they knew Sanchez, to leave flowers.
“The whole community is mourning,” one woman said.
A man who said he lives down the street from the Plaskons said that Friday was a terrible day for everyone.
“You should know these are really good people,” he said. “I mean really good people.”
Courant staff writers Denise Buffa, David Owens and Nicholas Rondinone contributed to this story.