Student accused of killing classmate at Butler HS appears in court

Jatwan Cuffie appears in court for the first time.
Jatwan Cuffie appears in court for the first time.
Updated: Oct. 30, 2018 at 5:10 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Sixteen-year-old Jatwan Cuffie made his first appearance in court Tuesday. The Butler High School freshman was charged with first-degree murder after police say he shot sophomore Bobby McKeithen in the school hallway Monday.

During his hearing, Cuffie stood quietly as attorneys asked a judge to give him the option for bail in the amount of $10,000. Attorneys cited Cuffie’s lack of previous offenses and his age as reasons why he should be eligible for bail. However, the judge denied the request, saying they could revisit the topic at Cuffie’s bond hearing set for November 7.

Cuffie appeared emotional, and his public defender comforted him, patting the teenager on the back before he left the courtroom. Cuffie had about a dozen family members and friends who came to support him, many of whom were in tears as they left the courthouse.

The family did not speak to the media, but Cuffie’s public defender said they’re clearly upset.

“He’s their son, he’s their baby, he’s 16-years-old, and it’s difficult for them as it would be for any parent,” said Joel Adelman, lead public defender for homicide cases.

Meanwhile the investigation continues in Matthews, where police now know the gun used in the Monday’s shooting was stolen out of a car in Gaston County. How Cuffie got the gun into school is still unknown.

“We’re still following up and trying to determine how he got it into school, when was the decision made, why did he bring it in, all of that is part of the investigation,” said Matthews Police Chief Clark Pennington.

Police also said they’ve received initial autopsy reports that confirm McKeithen was shot once in the torso. Police would not confirm if it was in the back or front of the torso.

The other main piece of this story still up for debate is the exactly what led up to the deadly shooting.

“We know there was an altercation between the suspect in this case and one or multiple other individuals in a separate location. We believe there may be, and again this is just one part of the theory, that there may have been an altercation at another location that carried over to the school,” said Pennington.

As for the idea that bullying was behind what happened Monday, police say that is a theme of this investigation, but they’ve had dozens of witnesses come forward with different stories and they’re still working to flush out exactly what happened at Butler High School.

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