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CHARLESTON -- During legal wranglings about Josiah Lyons shooting a fellow Mattoon High School student, what he wanted to do and something about what led him to do it became known.

Much of the time during nearly monthly court hearings over the last year for the teen suspect has been spent on his diagnosed mental health problems and what should be done about them.

That wasn't settled when, during a court appearance last month, he admitted to the criminal charge against him. Based on what the case's attorneys have said, the type of facility where he'll serve his sentence could still be an issue.

What's apparently clearer is what Lyons was thinking when he took a handgun from his father's gun safe and took it to school on the morning of Sept. 20, 2017.

He'd fought or quarreled with a fellow student, reaching a point that he decided he wanted to "shoot her in the head." And when he couldn't find her, he decided to "go down shooting."

That account was from February court testimony from Lawrence Jeckel, the psychiatrist who examined Lyons and diagnosed a defiance disorder and other conditions.

He said Lyons' actions were partly because of "perceived bullying" but he also acted as a bully himself.

It was actually before the hearing at which Jeckel testified that defense attorney Ed Piraino began his effort to find a treatment facility to house Lyons.

Now preparing for Lyons' sentencing, scheduled for Oct. 11, he continued to express frustration over what he said is the unwillingness of agencies or facilities to take the boy. That makes a sentence to juvenile prison likely, he added.

"I've got to go for the best resolution," he said.

Piraino classified the situation a "Draconian," arguing that the state has money for juvenile mental health treatment but the funds don't end up there. Imprisoning Lyons won't be enough to address his condition and help prevent future crimes, he said.

"It's sad when you've got a young man like this," Piraino said. "He has huge problems and if they're not corrected he's going to be in prison for life and it doesn't have to be."

Coles County State's Attorney Brian Bower said he won't forgo arguing for prison time for Lyons, which would actually be a sentence with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, at least at first.

"I don't see it as either-or," Bower said of Lyons' treatment prospects, as that should also be available to him in juvenile detention. "Any sentence I request will be a combination of penalty-slash-deterrent."

Also, the limited amount of time a juvenile can spend in detention no longer completely applies in Lyons' case, also because of a court development.

In July, Circuit Judge Matt Sullivan granted Bower's motion that made an adult prison sentence possible for Lyons if he's sent to juvenile detention but doesn't complete that successfully.

That decision extended the time Lyons could potentially be imprisoned from not past his 21st birthday to when the now-15-year-old would be in his mid-70s.

The criminal charge against Lyons is aggravated battery with a firearm. For a juvenile offense conviction, detention until 21 is the maximum sentence. And it could end earlier, as the actual time in detention is up to the state agency.

With an adult charge, the offense requires prison time with a conviction. The typical sentencing range is six to 30 years but, with a shooting that takes place in a school, the range is extended.

Instead of the 30- to 60-year sentence usually possible with a school shooting, however, in Lyons' case it will likely be 15 to 60 years.

Bower said he plans to ask for the reduction in the minimum possible sentence, which the law allows to give the sentencing judge more discretion.

He added that he thinks it's unfortunate that the case took as long to resolve as it did, but it "unfolded as the law sets forth." He also said it's good for the school district, for the community and for Lyons that it's nearing an end.

"We can go beyond it and continue as a community putting things back together, Bower said.

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