Dispatches from a Reporter's Notebook


Posted March 28, 2007 2:39 p.m. EDT
Updated March 28, 2007 4:30 p.m. EDT

The attorney for the 17-year-old boy charged with posioning his high school chemistry teacher calls the action a "foolish prank."   But a  Wake County  Superior Court judge had a different take on the situation today, Judge Creech called the case a "shocking expose'."

The teen is getting a second chance.  The teacher, Wendy Beeler, agreed along with the assistant district attorney that reformation, not punishment, is the goal for Zachary Midgett.  As a result Midgett will spend six months in a military-type boot camp for young people in South Carolina.  He will also be afforded the opportunity to finish his education having been permanently expelled from Wake County schools.

His attorney insists that he did not intend to harm his teacher when he put a combination of hydrochloric acid and zinc chloride in her water bottle at Cary High School on January 5.  She drank from the bottle, became ill, and then was alerted by another student that something had been put in her water.  Luckily, the acid was not strong enough to do serious damage.  She was treated and released from the hospital the same day.

From the beginning, Beeler made it clear to Cary Police that she wanted this crime taken seriously.  It has left such a mark on her that she almost gave up her 19-year teaching career, but she decided to return for the rest of the students, the students who decorated her classroom and put up a "Welcome Back" sign.  Like a true educator she wants to continue her mission of improving the lives of young people, including Midgett.

Judge Creech made it very clear that if Midgett does not fulfill all the requirements of the program in South Carolina he will find himself back in court and potentially in jail.

As Midgett left the courtroom today with his family they tried to block our camera's view in the hallway.  This is not unexpected for and not illegal as long as they do not physically assault the photographer who is well within his rights to shoot in a public space .  But then Zachary Midgett did something unexpected.  He grabbed our camera with his hand and held onto it until he could safely get away and run down the stairs.  More foolishness?  Another "childish prank?"  You decide.


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WRAL's Amanda Lamb offers a behind-the-scenes look at what TV news reporters do, the people they meet and how their jobs affect them.