Waseca County prosecutors returned to court today to get attempted murder charges reinstated against John LaDue.
LaDue is the teen accused of plotting to kill his family and attack his fellow students at Waseca Junior and Senior High School.
A district judge dismissed the most severe charges against him and today moved the case to the court of appeals.
No one disputes the fact that LaDue thought and wrote about a potential murderous rampage. There's also plenty of evidence that he began gathering weapons and experimenting with explosives.
But the question for the appeals court is -- did the teen go so far as to be charged with attempted murder?
Waseca County Attorney Brenda Miller argues LaDue should be facing attempted murder charges. She says the 17-year-old plotted to kill his family, and then commit a massacre at the Waseca school.
"His intention is to use the bombs to either cause damage and/or physical pain or death," she said in court.
LaDue was arrested last April when law enforcement found him with bomb making materials in a storage shed.
In interviews with police, he detailed his horrifying plans.
His journal writings allegedly showed vivid planning and prep work for a potential attack.
And while a district judge ruled that some felony charges should move forward, he tossed out a half dozen of the most severe counts, including attempted murder.
LaDue's defense team agrees fully with the lower court judge, and has said the young man needs help for mental illness, not a lengthy prison term.
LaDue's attorney, Mark Nyvold, said, "You can't just have all of these mounds of explosive devices and paraphernalia and these writings, and expect that to translate into something that directly tends to accomplish the crime."
Both sides battled over the issues in front of a three-judge state appeals court panel today.
Veteran criminal defense attorney Steve Meshbesher tells Fox 9 he doesn't see the case being overturned.
"This is a 17-year-old high school student who wrote a journal," he says. "Unless he took substantial steps in furtherance of what he wrote -- literally meaning what he wrote -- it's not an attempted crime."
Another significant issue is LaDue's age. He was 17 when he was arrested, and prosecutors argue they would have had a much easier time getting him certified as an adult if the most severe criminal counts they charged him with are allowed to move forward.
The court of appeals has 90 days to issue its ruling.