A circuit judge on Monday agreed to cut in half the bond imposed against a Conway teen who allegedly threatened to shoot up the school, citing a change in circumstances with school closures across the state.
TL Adam Ham, who was arrested in late February, is charged with first-degree terroristic threatening, a Class D felony, and threatening to commit an act of mass violence on school property, a Class C felony, after a counselor alerted authorities the 19-year-old had an “explicitly detailed” plan to shoot up the school.
Since Feb. 24, the Conway teen has remained behind bars in the Faulkner County Detention Center in lieu of a $100,000 bond. During a brief hearing held Monday morning in Faulkner County Circuit Court, Judge Troy Braswell Jr. agreed to reduce Ham’s bond to $50,000.
Otto Fry, who represents Ham, argued his client should not be held on a bond higher than $10,000.
The defense attorney also said he did not understand why prosecutors amended the criminal information filed against Ham by filing an additional felony charge against his client last week.
Initially, the 19-year-old was charged with first-degree terroristic threatening. However, on Wednesday, prosecutors formally filed the additional Class C felony against Ham.
In his argument, Fry said he did not understand why there would be more than one charge stemming from a single allegation against his client.
Senior deputy prosecutor John Hout said prosecutors had planned to file the threatening to commit an act of mass violence on school property charge against Ham on April 1 but that the filing process was delayed among other issues at the courthouse related to COVID-19.
Though the threats Ham is accused of making happened before schools were closed amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the deputy prosecutor said he did not believe there was a change in circumstances in Ham’s case that would warrant a bond reduction.
“The state does not believe there is a change of circumstances,” Hout said, adding that the teen’s current mental health status is not clear, a family member recently said the teen “was a danger to himself and others.”
The defense team plans to soon file a request to have Ham undergo a mental exam as well as a criminal responsibility evaluation, Fry said.
“I believe this court is familiar with this client from the juvenile court,” the defense attorney said, noting Ham was previously determined to have a mental condition.
According to the felony probable cause affidavit filed against Ham, the teen told a counselor earlier this year he did not believe he would be convicted of the threats he made.
The teen had reportedly told a counselor he would use his rifle and bring 30 rounds with him to school so he could “take out 29 and save the last one for me.”
The 19-year-old also told the counselor “he has been ruled mentally incompetent and would not serve time if caught. He said that if he doesn’t graduate, he will definitely shoot up the school, and wants to complete this before the end of the year, which [at the time was] in a few months,” the affidavit states.
The circuit judge agreed shortly before 9:40 a.m. Monday to reduce Ham’s bond to $50,000.
Braswell also ordered that Ham be required to wear an ankle monitor and be on house arrest should he post bond. While on house arrest, the 19-year-old would be allowed to go to work. Ham is still banned from all school grounds, according to the judge’s order.
The 19-year-old Conway resident is scheduled to appear next in Faulkner County Circuit Court on Aug. 24 for a mental evaluation status hearing.