Justin Stapleton, accused of shooting and critically injuring a 15-year-old Pleasant Prairie boy during a robbery, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Thursday.
Stapleton, 20, of Pleasant Prairie, is charged with attempted first-degree homicide, along with other felony charges, for the October 2018 shooting, which left the victim, an Indian Trail High School and Academy student, paralyzed.
Stapleton is alleged to have shot the boy, his neighbor, through the boy’s bedroom window after first demanding the teen hand over his shoes and a gaming system.
Although preliminary hearings typically are conducted within 10 days of the time a person is charged with a crime, Stapleton’s attorneys sought a mental competency evaluation, which took several months. He was declared competent to stand trial Feb. 1.
In court Thursday Stapleton sometimes appeared confused. As the court commissioner asked Stapleton a series of standard questions used when a defendant waives the right to a preliminary hearing — a hearing where the state must prove there is probable cause for the charges against the defendant — he had trouble answering.
“I don’t really understand none of it, but yeah,” he answered at one point.
“It’s important that you understand,” Commissioner Larry Keating said, questioning Stapleton whether he understood the rights he was giving up in not having the hearing.
“Not all of it. I understand some of it. I just didn’t understand certain things,” Stapleton answered.
Keating called an adjournment so Stapleton’s attorney could explain the process to him again. After that, Stapleton said he understood the process.
He is next slated to appear in court for an arraignment March 13, where he will formally enter his plea to the charges.