2nd teen suspected in Mountain Vista High School murder plot charged as an adult

Posted at 7:22 AM, Jan 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-14 19:44:47-05

The second 16-year-old girl accused of plotting a deadly attack at Mountain Vista High School will be tried as an adult.

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

Higgins broke down and cried in court Thursday when the judge announced her bond had been set at $1 million, according to Denver7 Reporter Brendaliss Gonzalez. Johnson's bond was also set at $1 million when she appeared in court last week.

During Thursday's hearing, prosecutors said Higgins told a friend 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.

Prosecutors said in court Thursday that Johnson referred to Higgins in her journal by writing she “found someone who’s got what it takes,” and they were going to be “unstoppable” and “prove what we are capable of,” prosecutors claimed. Johnson also wrote they'd make the school "a living f*cking nightmare," according to the D.A.

Prosecutors said Higgins searched online for places where underage kids could buy guns and looked up if minors could purchase guns at gun shows. Higgins visited - which is like Craigslist for weapons, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Higgins used her cell phone to search “female mass shooter,” and that she had written in her journal that she wished she could have been part of the Columbine attack. She also took a photo of herself in front of Columbine High School, prosecutors said.

Her defense attorney said searching websites for a gun isn’t a crime and being fascinated with Columbine isn’t a crime.

Higgins' lawyer said her case is very different from Johnson's and that there is no evidence of wrongdoing. The defense said Higgins kept a journal, as part of her ongoing therapy, but didn't write about the alleged attack plan.

“This is a thought crime, at best,” the defense attorney said.

Last week, a psychiatric evaluation was ordered for Higgins.

Higgins' lawyers claim that investigators have centered their flimsy case around her therapy journal and her cell phone, which they say were seized without proper consent.

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

The judge has sealed the records in Higgins' case until a later hearing, where the defense will try to bring the case back to juvenile court. The same is true for Johnson.

Higgins' attorney issued a statement on Tuesday distancing his client from Johnson. She called them acquaintances, not close friends, and said they only knew each other for a short time.

"They have different backgrounds, personalities, motivations and behaviors," attorney Dagny Van Der Jagt stated.

Higgins' next hearing is Jan. 21 at 9 a.m. Her preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 10 at 8:30 a.m.

Johnson was formally charged as an adult last week. Johnson is being represented by a public defender. 

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.

In court last week, prosecutors said Johnson had a detailed map of where everyone in the school would be and knew the school resource officer 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.