Police say a teenager accused of planning a school shooting had weighted body armor, Nazi flags, odes to the Columbine gunmen and access to several firearms when they raided his South Portland home last year.

The Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office presented the evidence Friday during the first day of a two-day hearing scheduled to determine whether Tristan Hamilton, 17, will be tried as an adult on a charge of criminal solicitation to commit murder. The charge is a Class A crime (the highest level in Maine) and could carry a sentence up to 30 years. Hamilton has pleaded not guilty.

They spent hours showing District Court Judge Peter Darvin photos from the SWAT raid and speaking to a former friend and classmate who reported Hamilton to police last spring.

It was the most substantive public hearing in his case to date but it only offered a limited look at the state’s evidence against Hamilton. Darvin barred prosecutors from presenting scores of digital evidence – more than 9,500 files – because they failed to turn the evidence over to the defense until the night before.

“If you have information, you have to turn it over,” said Darvin after telling the courtroom that he found the situation “deeply problematic and vexing.”

Hamilton’s attorneys asked the judge to throw out the case entirely. Darvin only agreed to limit the evidence and keep an arson charge in juvenile court. Prosecutors said they agreed earlier to dismiss a misdemeanor-level terrorizing charge.


The hearing was only to determine whether Hamilton would be tried as an adult. The judge stressed to the courtroom that it is not a final fact-finding trial. Attorneys are expected to continue arguments on Tuesday.

Hamilton was first arrested in April 2023 and was charged with arson, criminal mischief and theft. Those charges appear to have been be related to a different crime and addressed in private juvenile proceedings.

Juvenile cases are typically sealed in Maine, but the district attorney’s office has said the seriousness of the allegations prompted them to unseal some details about the case last year.

Many at South Portland High School have said they are frustrated by the secrecy. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s family and attorneys have said the young man has been irreparably harmed by what limited information has been released. Until Friday’s hearing, both sides were barred from discussing the evidence.


The prosecutors’ case relies heavily on 19-year-old Logan Rall, who said Hamilton used to be one of his closest friends. South Portland police would not have initiated a SWAT raid at Hamilton’s home if Rall hadn’t alerted them.


Hamilton’s lawyers argued Rall’s statements have been inconsistent and dishonest at times. Darvin ultimately agreed Friday that he was a “flawed” witness.

Rall said he contacted South Portland police last April 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.

Hamilton told him he had included as many as 10 people in his plan and twice had asked Rall to participate, Rall said, but he declined.

He told the judge that he and Hamilton spent a lot of time talking about their beliefs and that Hamilton’s were “racist, homophobic, fascist.” He said Hamilton invited him into a Neo-Nazi chatroom and would send him messages with threats of violence, referencing his access to guns.

Rall said Hamilton glorified the gunmen behind the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, the nation’s first major school shooting.

Prosecutors asked Rall why he didn’t immediately contact police.


“Because he was my best friend,” he said. “It was destroying me for the longest time.”

At one point, Rall argued with defense attorneys about what he first told police. He said Hamilton had asked him to buy ammunition and other materials for firearms, along with material to make pipe bombs and Nazi flags, because he was 18. But Mark Peltier, one of Hamilton’s attorneys, said Rall that would have been only 17 at that time.


Police seized at least 20 items from Hamilton’s home in April, according to a list of evidence prosecutors showed Darvin, including a ballistic vest and helmet and several high-powered firearms.

South Portland Detective Jon Stearns testified that they found three guns leaning on a wall next to a gun safe in Hamilton’s father’s bedroom. One was a”Hi-Point Carbine,” Stearns noted, one of the firearms used at Columbine. There were more firearms in the safe, he said.

Hamilton’s father, Adam Hamilton, also was arrested the day of the SWAT raid and charged with hindering police and refusing to submit to arrest. He pleaded not guilty to those charges in September.


Stearns said a black-and-white composition notebook seized from the back of the younger Hamilton’s car contained doodled references the teen made to “Doom,” a first-person shooter video game from the 1990s that Stearns said the Columbine shooters played.

Prosecutors displayed dozens of pictures police took from the notebook in which Tristan Hamilton had drawn stick figures shooting each other, and one of what Stearns believed was a lynching. There were several dark and disturbing messages scribbled in capital letters throughout the notebook: “Take back our future.” “Kill them all.” “No mercy.”

Throughout Hamilton’s bedroom, Stearns said police found several flags and posters with Nazi symbols and other white supremacist phrases that they also saw in online groups they said Hamilton was a part of. Assistant District Attorney Christopher Coleman said these all spoke to Hamilton’s motive.

Peltier, the defense attorney, objected to their relevance to Hamilton’s criminal solicitation charge. Whether or not he had items displaying offensive or hateful views “isn’t the crime,” Peltier said. He said the state did not have enough evidence to justify a solicitation charge.

Peltier said Hamilton’s ballistic vest and helmet were consistent with what kids playing with Airsoft rifles usually wear. Stearns testified that police also found an Airsoft rifle on Hamilton’s bed during their search that they originally thought was a firearm.



A forensic psychologist who testified for the state said that she deemed Hamilton a “high level” risk in a threat assessment she conducted before Friday’s hearing.

Stephanie Liete said she often studies and assesses the threats of teens and other youths who may be planning a school shooting. She said that she was “gobsmacked” by the breadth of videos, memes and posts Hamilton read about the Columbine gunmen and other mass shooters – some of the things Hamilton had viewed online were images she had never seen before, including videos of the shooters “play-acting” and post mortem photographs.

“It shows a deep interest in the attackers and the violence that is associated with them,” Liete said.

She said Hamilton would benefit from community-based de-radicalization treatment, more supervision and time away from the the internet. She emphasized she wasn’t there to recommend anything related to his criminal case – even though the state selected her to help prove that Hamilton should be tried as an adult.

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