A Morgan County judge found Michael Phelps, 16, guilty of attempted murder after Phelps admitted he intended to kill 15-year-old Chance Jackson Monday.
Jackson was shot twice at Martinsville West Middle School on March 25, 2011.
Prosecutor Steve Sonnega said his team had lined up several witnesses prepared to testify that Phelps had previously spoken about wanting to become famous as a school shooter. If Chance had not been at the school March 25, the prosecution said Phelps would have shot somebody else.
"It really turned that it wasn't about Chance, it was more about the sensationalism of a middle school shooting. Chance really was just a target of opportunity," Sonnega said.
Phelps' defense attorney, Steve Litz, said this new information came to light last week. At that time, Phelps decided to admit to the shooting, while still pleading not guilty.
In the courtroom, opening arguments were waived. Chance Jackson and Michael Phelps were the only two to take the stand during the 15 minute trial.
Sonnega asked Phelps if he shot Jackson. Phelps said that yes he did. Sonnega then asked Phelps if he intended to kill Jackson. Phelps admitted that he did.
Following Phelps' admission, Judge G. Thomas Gray immediately stopped the bench trial and declared Phelps guilty of attempted murder. Five other charges were dropped.
"The prosecutor and I discussed the case and it was agreed that this is how we would handle it. So this was essentially a defacto guilty plea," Litz said.
Last week, Phelps chose to waive his right to a jury trial.
Jury selection was halted July 1, by Phelps' attorney. Potential jurors were selected in Clay County in order to give Phelps a fair trial, but more than half of them said they were aware of the case, and more than a dozen told lawyers they thought Phelps was guilty.
Phelps faces 20-50 years. Sentencing is set for for August 12.
Jackson is still recovering from his injuries.