LINCOLN — A judge took a chance Friday by ordering the pretrial release of a 16-year-old girl accused of the knife and hammer assault of a fellow student at Lincoln's Pius X High School.
“Don't embarrass me,” Lancaster County Judge Gale Pokorny told Sarah Piccolo as the brief arraignment hearing concluded.
The prosecutor asked that Piccolo post a $5,000 bail to gain her release during court proceedings. She faces two felony charges and she fled to another state following an attack Monday that prompted a two-hour school lock down.
“The bond is necessary not only for her safety but for the safety of other persons,” Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Bruce Prenda said.
Both police and school officials have said Piccolo has no history of trouble. When the girl's father said he could not immediately pay the $5,000, the judge ordered her released on a personal recognizance bond.
Pokorny ordered the girl to have no contact with the victim, Ellen Kopetzky, 17, a senior at Pius. The judge also told her to stay away from the school.
Authorities led Piccolo into court in shackles Friday, a day after she was returned to Lincoln from Kansas. She was being held in a juvenile detention center before the hearing.
Piccolo wore her brown hair pulled back and spoke softly as she answered the judge's questions. Her father, John Piccolo, accompanied by a priest, stood at her side.
She is charged with first-degree assault and use of a weapon to commit a felony. If convicted, she faces a maximum of 50 years in prison on each count.
“You got yourself into a whole lot of trouble,” the judge said.
John Piccolo declined comment as he left court. DeAnn Stover, Piccolo's attorney, declined to say whether she will petition the judge to transfer Piccolo's case to juvenile court.
Kopetzky, 17, suffered two hammer blows to the head as well as cuts to her face and hands. She underwent surgery at a Lincoln hospital and was released the following day.
About two dozen police searched each classroom for the suspect after the attack, making for a tense two hours for teachers, students and parents.
Piccolo spent the night at a motel in Yates Center, Kan., a small community about 250 miles south of Lincoln. Following an emotional conversation with the 58-year-old motel manager the next morning, Piccolo asked that police be called.