A judge said on Thursday morning that he needed more time to consider whether the South Portland teenager accused of planning an attack at his high school should be released from Long Creek Youth Development Center.

At Tristan Hamilton’s detention hearing, his second in the past week, Cumberland County Judge Peter Darvin said he was concerned by statements the 17-year-old allegedly made to corrections officers Wednesday night.

The judge did not say what those statements were, and he barred prosecutors from sharing details. But he agreed that they were more troubling than the “generalized threats” Hamilton is accused of making in social media group chats, leading to his detention last week.

Although Darvin said he wanted to take the rest of Thursday to decide whether Hamilton would remain in custody or be placed under house arrest, he appeared eager to move the case along, scheduling a status conference for Dec. 18.

It is unclear whether Darvin’s ruling on the teen’s detention will be made public. A court clerk said Thursday afternoon that she did not have the authority to share any information about the ruling, including whether the judge had issued his decision. While recent hearings in Hamilton’s case have been open to the public, state laws and Darvin’s orders have limited what information the public has been able to access.

Details about the case likely won’t emerge until a hearing to move the case to adult court, which prosecutors have requested. That hearing could take place in January and lawyers for both sides would be free to discuss specifics that Darvin has ordered sealed.


Hamilton was briefly detained at Long Creek after his arrest last spring but spent most of last seven months at home before he was taken into custody last Thursday for violating one of several conditions of release imposed by Darvin.

“These were what I thought were strict conditions. I tried to be a detailed as I could, and it’s very clear that those were not followed,” Darvin said.

The teenager is facing charges for criminal solicitation for murder, arson and terrorizing. He has pleaded not guilty.

Though juvenile criminal cases are normally sealed to protect minors’ privacy, the seriousness of the charges against Hamilton have thrust him into the spotlight since a SWAT team raided his home in April, arresting the teenager and his father, former South Portland school board candidate Adam Hamilton.

Key details of the state’s case, including what exactly police believe the younger Hamilton intended to do and who he shared his alleged plan with, remain hidden from the public. The defense and his family have repeatedly stated that the teen has never been a threat to anyone and have argued that the charges against him are only alienating him from his community.

“Everybody has basically put the weight of the world on this juvenile’s shoulders,” Adam Hamilton told the judge on Thursday. “I just don’t know how anyone would bear that weight.”



Darvin pressed Hamilton’s parents and his defense attorney, Amber Miller, to outline specific measures they could take to make sure the teen would not violate the conditions of his release, and he appeared unsatisfied with their promises that Hamilton was sorry and would not break the rules again.

“I think it’s a mistake for you and it’s a mistake for Tristan for him not to take accountability for these violations,” Darvin told Adam Hamilton. “It’s great to be proud of your son, but if I was a parent in your situation, I’d also be concerned. I haven’t heard you say that.”

The older Hamilton told the judge that he is willing to do anything it takes to bring his son home, including adjusting his own work schedule so he can monitor the teen while he completes his online schooling during the day.

Darvin said Tristan Hamilton’s recent comments to Long Creek staff were particularly concerning because they did not square with the defense’s argument that Hamilton was saying hateful things to peers only as a way of finding acceptance.

He said it was difficult to determine from the evidence how serious Hamilton was when he made the threats. The teenager’s corrections officer said she was not confident about the teen’s risk level and declined to make a recommendation to the judge.

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