State Calls More Witnesses In School Plot Trial
By Liz Shepherd
ROCHESTER — The state of Indiana continued its case against a man accused of plotting a Columbine-type massacre by calling six witnesses for testimony on Tuesday, Feb. 8.
John Lawrence Schultz IV, 20, 630 W. 6th St., Rochester, is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder, both level 2 felonies; and possession of methamphetamine, possession of a narcotic drug, and two counts of intimidation, all level 6 felonies.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Schultz’s jury trial is being live streamed.
The trial continued on Tuesday with Schultz’s defense attorneys cross-examining testimony from Donald Victor Robin Jr., 19, Westville. Robin is Schultz’s co-defendant who was sentenced in March 2021 to 17 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder.
Defense Attorney Joseph Bauer focused cross-examination on contradictions between what Robin said in his testimony to the jury and what he said in his deposition with Schultz’s lawyers. Robin’s deposition took place a few days after his sentencing.
Robin testified that he was bullied a lot during his enrollment at Rochester High School. However, transcripts from Robin’s sentencing state that Robin said he was bullied sometimes but not all the time.
Robin also said in his deposition that the pair’s ideas to plan a school shooting became less of a priority as their drug use became more frequent. When asked by Bauer which specific schools were scoped out for potential attacks, Robin said they only really scoped out Rochester High School and drove by Caston a couple times.
Bauer then pointed out that Robin said in his deposition that they never scoped out the schools. Robin also agreed that there was no deliberate plan to shoot up Caston Schools, Rochester Middle School or Rochester’s elementary schools. Bauer asked Robin if his testimony was evolving to make Schultz look worse.
“I mean, there’s no motive to that, but yeah,” said Robin.
Bauer also asked Robin about a trip to EZPawn, a Logansport pawn shop, with Schultz and Jared Carter, a friend. Robin said the three went to the shop to pawn items for drug money and didn’t use the cash to purchase explosives or guns. Robin said the pawn shop did have firearms and remembered Schultz becoming excited about a specific gun the shop had.
Robin was also asked about the writing on Schultz’s bedroom walls. He agreed that no names of Rochester schools were written but said the quote “Columbine will fall because of us” directly referenced Rochester High School. Bauer questioned why Robin did not mention this in his deposition; in redirect from the state, Robin clarified that it was not mentioned because no one asked him what it was referencing.
Bauer later discussed a letter that Robin wrote in his sentencing hearing. In the letter, Robin expressed his remorse for his actions and said he “never had any intentions to hurt someone.” When asked if there were any intentions, Robin said his mindset was significantly different from the time he was arrested and when he was sentenced. He told the court his sobriety helped his mental state improve. Robin described his mental state in July 2020 as “suicidal, homicidal, aggressive.”
In redirect with Robin, Fulton County Prosecutor Michael Marrs presented two evidentiary videos showing Robin and Schultz together. The first video showed the pair getting ready to use methamphetamine, with Schultz saying, “Ready for Columbine?” The second video showed Schultz and Robin singing “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People, with Robin imitating holding a gun.
When asked why he pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, Robin said the prosecution had “too much against him.”
“How do you explain having a trench coat, or the Internet searches?” said Robin. “How do you explain stuff like that to a jury? That’s just not normal.”
The state then called Jared Carter, Schultz and Robin’s friend, for testimony.
Carter said he frequently spent time with the pair and recalled the trip to EZPawn.
Bauer asked Carter about a social media conversation he had with Schultz. In the conversation, Schultz allegedly said he wanted to “shoot up a school.” When asked how he felt about the message, Carter said he was baffled, but so out of it that he wasn’t really paying attention.
Carter said he didn’t report the incident to law enforcement or school officials, and that the incident did not change his friendship with Schultz. He also said he could not recall guns being at EZPawn and didn’t remember seeing Schultz become fascinated with a firearm at the shop.
Sandy Owens, owner of Owens Country Berries; and David Boucher, owner of EZPawn in Logansport, were also both called for brief testimony.
Owens said the first weekend her business was open in 2020, a shed on the property was broken into. One of the items stolen from the shed was a blue helium tank. Both the state and Robin are alleging that Robin and Schultz stole the tank from the farm and wrote Columbine references on it.
Boucher said EZPawn sold firearms in July 2020, but could not recall if Schultz ever visited the store during that time.
Indiana State Police Forensic Scientist Melinda McNair testified about methamphetamine found in Schultz’s possession when a search warrant was served at his home in July 2020. McNair said her tests confirmed the substance was 3.25 grams of methamphetamine. Additional tests also confirmed that Schultz was in possession of less than 0.01 grams of a controlled substance.
The state’s final witness of the day was Mitch Kajzer, director of the cyber crimes unit for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney in St. Joseph County. His unit completed digital forensics on eight pieces of evidence, including three cellphones that belonged to Schultz, as well as a phone, computer and three hard drives belonging to Robin.
Kajzer also said his unit completed initial analysis in August 2020 but did additional analysis on Robin’s phone in July 2021 after receiving a passcode for the device. Kajzer clarified that more data could be extracted from the phone since the passcode was given to them.
He elaborated on how keyword matches were used to help obtain information on the case, but noted the matches do include each instance the specific keywords would appear in a link, photo or webpage. Through Robin’s cellphone, the word “eric” had 2,755 matches; “kill” had 629 matches; and “Columbine” had 115 matches.
The extraction also showed two contacts in Robin’s phone named “Reb’s Revenge” and “Reb’s Mom.” “Reb” is a nickname used by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the Columbine shooters. A picture of Klebold and Harris was used as the contact photo for “Reb’s Revenge.” It could not be determined who the “Reb’s Revenge” phone number belonged to.
Keyword listings from one of Robin’s computer hard drives included “bomb” with 4,533 matches; “plan” with 2,523 matches; “Rochester” with 2,445 matches; “Caston” with two matches; and “gun” with 7,128 matches.
When asked by defense if school-specific search terms such as “Rochester High School” or “Caston Schools” were used, Kajzer said the words were not inputted together as part of the keyword search. Kajzer also said there was no way to determine how long time was spent on certain websites.
A juror asked if it was possible to determine if Schultz’s cellphone was at Robin’s home when the searches were being made. Kajzer said there was no information to indicate whether or not Schultz was with Robin when the searches were being made.
Schultz’s trial will continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 9. The state plans to call one additional witness and rest its case. It is unknown at this time whether Schultz will testify and if the defense intends to call any witnesses.