By Doug Petrowski
Former Mountlake Terrace High School student Brach Hornbuckle pleaded guilty to an Assault 4 with Sexual Motivations charge in juvenile court in Everett on Tuesday as prosecutors dropped other charges against him, including a cyberstalking charge that resulted from a threatening post made on Twitter against a fellow MTHS student.
Hornbuckle, who turned 18 years old in January, was 17 when the assault occurred last fall and when the alleged cyberstalking incident toward a second victim occurred later.
Judge Linda Krese ordered Hornbuckle to one-year probation, with continuing community service and counseling. Two no-contact orders were signed by the court, one specifying Hornbuckle have no contact with either the victim of the assault or the subject of the threatening tweet.
Hornbuckle has agreed not to return to Mountlake Terrace High School and told the court he will instead enroll in an EdCAP program at a local community college to complete his high school education, earn a diploma and continue with college courses.
The assault conviction stems from an incident at Hornbuckle’s home last fall; the cyberstalking charge resulted from a tweet he made last month referring to a MTHS classmate. “He sent out a tweet about a girl in a math class, saying, ‘she has a very obnoxious laugh and I should slit her throat,’” Hornbuckle’s attorney, Caroline Mann, told the court on Tuesday.
“I think what happened here is troublesome,” said Judge Krese, but conceded to the plea agreement following encouragement from Mann and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cynthia Larsen. “Hopefully this has been a wake-up call for him,” Larsen told the court.
“It has been something that has scared him quite a bit, and he has done some soul searching” agreed Mann. “He is a bright guy. He is taking away from this appropriate lessons learned.”
Hornbuckle said little during the court session, but was brought to tears as his grandmother and father spoke in court. “It did open up his heart and mind a little bit as to where he was,” his father Mark Hornbuckle told the court.
He had been attending Mountlake Terrace High School for his senior year of classes up until Feb. 1, when he was arrested for cyberstalking.
“When we learned of the threat here at school we emergency expelled the student and referred the matter to the Mountlake Terrace police,” said MTHS Principal Greg Schwab. “The nature of the threat was directed to one student and she, and her family, were notified.”