A South Portland teen accused of trying to plan a school shooting also was setting fire to stolen Pride flags and throwing Molotov cocktails around the Wainwright Sports Complex at night, a police detective testified Tuesday.

Prosecutors presented new photo and video evidence Tuesday in juvenile court, where Portland District Court Judge Peter Darvin is considering whether Tristan Hamilton, 17, should be tried as an adult for criminal solicitation of murder. The state already has agreed to keep an arson charge in juvenile court.

“Support your local Nazi,” reads one image Hamilton allegedly shared on Snapchat after posting a video of himself standing over a burning Pride flag. “End degeneracy.”

Hamilton also posted many videos of himself wearing ballistic-style military gear and posing with firearms, South Portland Detective Jon Stearns told the court Tuesday.

Darvin has heard two days of testimony about Hamilton’s criminal history and is now tasked with determining whether Hamilton’s behavior and threats are serious enough to merit adult charges. He is expected to announce his decision when Hamilton is back in court next Tuesday.

It’s rare to move a juvenile case to adult court when no one was injured, Hamilton’s lawyers said. They’ve said Hamilton’s offensive beliefs and conduct don’t make him guilty of criminal solicitation. But prosecutors say Hamilton’s history proves he had the motive to carry out such a crime.


The state also presented some new details about Hamilton’s previous release violations. He was briefly detained last year at Long Creek after he was caught accessing neo-Nazi chatrooms online, his former community corrections officer, Beth Fawcett, testified.

FBI agents in Arkansas sent South Portland police evidence that Hamilton had sent someone a screenshot from the movie “American History X” of a Black man being “curb stomped,” with the message “this is going to be my next charge (for real).” Stearns said Hamilton had told the same person that a friend had recently turned against him.

During the first day of testimony on Friday, prosecutors shared dozens of pictures from a SWAT raid of Hamilton’s home, where he had several Nazi flags and other white supremacist memorabilia in his bedroom, along with ballistic vests and a helmet. Hamilton also had access to several unsecured firearms that police say supported allegations from a friend that the teen was planning a school shooting.

But they were barred Friday from discussing or showing Hamilton’s online activity because Darvin ruled prosecutors failed to disclose to the defense all of the digital evidence police had obtained last spring.

Darvin agreed to let prosecutors reference some of that evidence Tuesday despite objections from Hamilton’s defense lawyer, Mark Peltier, who said he still hadn’t had time to review the more than 9,500 digital files prosecutors sent them Thursday night, limiting his opportunity to determine the context of the posts or verify whether they were Hamilton’s doing.

“We have no way of verifying that with the way we got the materials,” Peltier said.



The pictures and videos presented Tuesday showed Hamilton launching Molotov cocktails, burning Pride flags and posing with firearms behind captions related to school shootings. Several videos were edited to play over such songs as “Pumped Up Kicks,” a song about kids running from bullets in a school shooting.

“Getting ready for the first day,” read one picture Hamilton took of a gun in his father’s bedroom. Stearns, the detective, said the image was posted to Snapchat the evening before the first day of school in South Portland in 2022.

“Coming to a school near you,” Hamilton allegedly wrote over another image of himself holding a rifle.

Hamilton’s attorneys have argued the state’s case relies on only one witness – Hamilton’s former friend, Logan Rall – who they say is unreliable because he lied to police about his involvement in Hamilton’s other alleged crimes.

Rall testified Friday that he alerted South Portland police to what Hamilton was planning because he was “concerned for the safety and well-being of the students” after Hamilton told him about his plans to “shoot up the school” on multiple occasions. He said Hamilton glorified the gunmen who committed the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, the nation’s first major school shooting.


Stearns said Tuesday that he talked to at least two other youths who said they were scared of Hamilton.

“He’s not the type of guy you’d want to have bad blood with,” one witness told him in a recorded police interview. She also told the detective that she had been “distancing” herself from Hamilton, but that she thought Hamilton had been joking when he talked about his plans for a school shooting.


None of the three psychological experts who have testified has recommended Hamilton should be tried as an adult.

One expert for the prosecution suggested that Hamilton was a high risk based on his interest in Columbine and his radical beliefs. But she testified she didn’t know enough about Maine’s juvenile justice system to say whether that was enough to warrant adult charges.

James Harrison, a clinical psychologist who testified for the defense, said he didn’t believe Hamilton had a propensity for violence. However, prosecutors argued his report was based on “curated” information from the defense. Harrison said his report could have been different had he received more of Hamilton’s online activity.


Darvin also heard extensively from Peter Donnelly, a clinical psychologist who conducted a report at the judge’s request. Donnelly said he has considered six other bind-over cases for Maine courts, but none of them has ever involved a defendant who hadn’t injured another person. Five of those cases involved murder charges.

Donnelly said he believes the juvenile justice system is “equipped to manage someone like” Hamilton more than the adult system. In adult prison, Hamilton would be “with people who are criminals, people who do have antisocial views, when he’s still forming an identity,” Donnelly said.

Prosecutors argued he could be sentenced to probation and wouldn’t necessarily be given jail time.

But Donnelly also discussed his difficulties reconciling what Hamilton said in interviews with his online activity and statements from friends.

The psychologist said Hamilton demonstrated empathy in their interviews. Even when confronted with his online activity, Hamilton said he didn’t support violence against anyone and that perhaps he was “desensitized” to neo-Nazi content.

He said Hamilton was disturbed when he found out that other students were afraid of him.


Prosecutors discussed at length Hamilton’s dark interest in the Columbine massacre. He also had downloaded a copy of the full 17-minute video from the Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019 in New Zealand, they said Tuesday.

Donnelly’s biggest area of concern was the breadth of “right-wing” materials, espousing anti-gay, anti-Black and antisemitic views, he said.

He said he wasn’t convinced when Hamilton said in a second interview that he was reversing some of his beliefs.

“Would this have been a phase he’d grow out of?” Donnelly asked rhetorically.

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