School murder plot suspect gets new lawyer

Posted at 11:24 AM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 15:41:52-05

One of the two 16-year-old girls accused of planning a deadly attack at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch has changed lawyers.

Brooke Higgins and the other suspect, Sienna Johnson, have been charged as adults with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder after deliberation.

Higgins was being represented by Dagny Van Der Jagt. In court Thursday, we learned attorney Iris Eytan is taking over the case. The defense did not say why the change was made.

Higgins had a reverse transfer hearing scheduled for Thursday  to determine whether her case could be moved back to juvenile court. That hearing was postponed to give the new attorney time to review the case.

The defense requested that Higgins not be shackled. The state insisted that she remain shackled because she is currently being tried as an adult. The judge decided Higgins could have one hand free, according to Denver7 Reporter Sally Mamdooh, who was in the courtroom.

Higgins bond was set at $1 million on Jan. 14, but a new bond hearing has been set for Jan. 29, Mamdooh reported. Witnesses will be called during that bond hearing.

Higgins' previous lawyer claimed that investigators centered their flimsy case around her therapy journal and her cell phone, which the defense claimed were seized without proper consent.

"...[T]he prosecution’s theory hinges upon entries written in Defendant’s personal journal, which was seized by law enforcement without a warrant and without consent of either Defendant or her parents."

Prosecutors said Higgins had written in her journal that she wished she could have been part of the Columbine High School mass shooting. She also took a photo of herself in front of Columbine, the district attorney said.

Johnson also kept a journal. Prosecutors said Johnson wrote that she “found someone who’s got what it takes,” and they were going to be “unstoppable” and “prove what we are capable of.” Johnson also wrote they'd make the school "a living f***ing nightmare," according to the district attorney.

Higgins' previous lawyer said her case is very different from Johnson's and that there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

"There is no direct evidence in this case of Defendant’s possession of any weapons, bombs, or incendiary devices,"  the previous attorney stated.

The D.A. said Higgins used her cell phone to search “female mass shooter.” The prosecution also said Higgins searched online for places where underage kids could buy guns and looked up whether minors could purchase guns at gun shows. Higgins visited - which is like Craigslist for weapons, prosecutors said.

“This is a thought crime, at best,” said Van Der Jagt.

According to prosecutors, Higgins told a friend that she and another girl would shoot up the school and that she'd send the friend a text warning her not to come to school on the day they planned to attack.

Johnson is also being tried as an adult and her bond was also set at $1 million. Johnson is being represented by a public defender.

The judge has sealed the records in both girls' cases.

MORE | Texted tip stopped Mountain Vista High School threat

Someone notified Mountain Vista High School about the threat over the Text-A-Tip line on Saturday, Dec. 12. The specific nature of the threats hasn't been released.

Many details of the case have not been made public, because court documents are sealed.

However, in a previous hearing, prosecutors said Johnson had a detailed map of where everyone in the school would be and knew the school resource officer's schedule. They added that Johnson already bought a BB gun to use for target practice. The prosecution called her extremely violent and said she harmed pets in the past.