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Connecticut teen accused of stabbing classmate to be tried by judges

By Richard Weizel

MILFORD Conn. (Reuters) - A Connecticut high school student accused of fatally stabbing a female classmate hours before their junior prom pleaded not guilty to murder on Wednesday and was granted his request that his case be decided by a three-judge panel rather than a jury.

Attorneys for Christopher Plaskon, who is charged with attacking Maren Sanchez with a kitchen knife, said they are considering a mental health defense.

Plaskon is taking anti-psychotic and other medications, defense attorney Richard Meehan said.

"We are considering that kind of defense, yes, and under the circumstances believe that a three-judge panel would be better equipped than a jury to consider this case,” Meehan said outside the courthouse.

Judge Frank Iannotti of Superior Court in Milford granted the request that the case be decided by a panel of three judges. The panel's decision does not have to be unanimous, he noted.

Plaskon, now 17, was 16 at the time of the attack. He is accused of stabbing Sanchez, also 16, at Jonathan Law High School in the neck, chest and face on April 25.

He is to be tried as an adult.

Police say they are still investigating reports that Sanchez, the class president and a National Honor Society student, had rebuffed Plaskon's invitation to the junior prom.

As he was taken into custody, covered in blood, Plaskon told the arresting officer: "I did it. Just arrest me," according to court documents.

At Plaskon's arraignment in May, his lawyer said he was exhibiting signs of psychosis. He had been held on a 24-hour suicide watch.

Milford is a suburban coastal city of 50,000, located between Bridgeport and New Haven.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Doina Chiacu)

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