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Sentencing continued for Elbert County teen who threatened school shootings

William ‘Lily’ Whitworth pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in November for threatening to target three schools in Colorado Springs, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
D20 School threat
Posted at 8:39 AM, Jan 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-19 13:41:24-05

ELBERT COUNTY, Colo. — Citing confusion around recommendations from community corrections, the sentencing of a former District 20 student who admitted to a plot to shoot up three Colorado Springs schools was continued until later in January.

William ‘Lily’ Whitworth, 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault on November 6, 2023, for threatening to target three schools in Colorado Springs Academy District 20, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

Whitworth identifies as 'Lily'.

Following presentations by prosecutors, Whitworth's defense, and addresses from several witnesses, including Lily and her father, Judge Theresa Slade decided to continue the sentencing hearing until January 30 at 2 p.m. for all sides to gain more clarity on the recommendations.

The judge stressed the continuation didn't mean she was leaning in any certain direction, including probation or potential release into an intensive residential treatment program.

An arrest affidavit revealed the Elbert County Sheriff's Office was called to a home in an unincorporated area after a family member in the homemade claims Whitworth had made multiple references to school shootings and even allegedly threatened to shoot up a school.

“While on scene, deputies noticed a dry-erase board in the home which appeared to have a labeled floor plan of a school and a notebook with some additional drawings and floor plans,” the DA’s office said in a release.

Those notebook drawings, which included floor plan sketches and text messages between Lily and her mother were referenced during the sentencing hearing in which Whitworth had drafted plans to commit a shooting at Timberview Middle School, Prairie Hills Elementary, and Pine Creek High School.

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Whitworth admitted to planning the attack and told the court she was “deeply remorseful” for her actions.

While the defense presented a picture of an abusive homelife and sought probation with conditions, the prosecutor urged Judge Theresa Slade to sentence Whitworth to further jail time to deter others who might threaten to commit school shootings in the future.

Whitworth has already served almost 300 days behind bars since the March 2023 arrest.

Tonya Thompson, counsel for Academy District 20 addressed the court urging the judge to consider the toll the threat has taken on the students, teachers, staff, and parents of the school community. "This is not a victim-less crime," she said, adding the whole ordeal has stressed the district's budget by taking a financial toll and redirecting resources away from educating students to further enhance school security, yet "confidence in school safety has been diminished," she added.

Her father, Christopher Whitworth, who lives in Texas, urged the court to release Lily on probation so she could return with him where the family had a support system.“I know Lily is capable of some amazing things if just given a chance,” he pleaded with the court. “Lily has seen a host of people back in Texas waiting to help them, love them, support them, show them something better to come home to.”

The DA’s office had said Whitworth allegedly told jail staff if released on bond, they would attempt to carry out the original mass shooting plan.

While originally facing a slew of charges, including attempted murder, the defendant accepted a plea agreement in November entering a guilty plea to second-degree assault, which is a class 4 felony.


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