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Teenage boy charged with killing principal to be evaluated

By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - A Memphis high school junior charged with first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing his principal to death has been ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation before his next Juvenile Court appearance August 24.

Vince Higgins, a spokesman for the district attorney's office, said the evaluation was ordered because the suspect, 16-year-old Eduardo Marmolejo, "appears to be a threat to other people as well as himself."

Marmolejo was arrested on Wednesday at Memphis Junior School after police discovered the body of Suzette York, principal as well as a teacher at the Seventh-day Adventist school that has 64 students in kindergarten-through-11th grade.

Marmolejo allegedly told police he did not like York, that she made him angry and that he had planned to kill her, according to police public information officer Sgt Karen Rudolph.

"Marmolejo further advised that he knew that he was going to be alone with York, which would give him the opportunity to kill her," according to a statement released by Rudolph.

His first court appearance on Thursday lasted roughly nine minutes, according to Higgins, communications director for Shelby Country District Attorney General Amy Weirich.

"He was ordered to remain in the custody of juvenile authorities," Higgins said, explaining that Magistrate Sheldon McCall, "ordered a mental-health evaluation to be conducted by Juvenile Court professionals" and the boy's court-appointed attorneys requested an independent psychiatric evaluation.

York, 49, who had been principal at the school since 2008, was stabbed multiple times and her body was found in a pool of blood inside a classroom when police arrived at the school at around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, the third day of school.

Shelby County prosecutor Chris Lareau may seek to have the boy's case be moved to adult court at the next appearance.

Marmolejo was the first and only 11th-grader at the school, one of 19 in the two-state conference, said Marvin Lowman, communications director for the Seventh-day Adventist Kentucky-Tennessee Conference.

Earlier this week, Lowman said York was in her second stint at Memphis Junior Academy.

She taught at the school in the 1990s before going to work in Canada. She was recruited to return to serve as principal.

Among her goals was helping the school -- which until this year had only served kindergarten-through-10th grade -- expand and serve students all the way through 12th grade.

The slaying has had "a chilling effect" on Memphis, according to Higgins.

(Editing by James B. Kelleher and Greg McCune)