Douglas Chanthabouly
Drew Perine  /  pool via AP file
Douglas Chanthabouly, 18, is led out of court after pleading not guilty Thursday in the shooting death of a classmate in Tacoma, Wash.
updated 1/6/2007 6:49:39 PM ET 2007-01-06T23:49:39

A teenager accused of fatally shooting a fellow student in a high school hallway has a history of mental illness and may have schizophrenia, according to a report from a mental health expert.

Douglas Chanthabouly, 18, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting Wednesday. Police said he admitted to killing Samnang Kok, but refused to say why. Chanthabouly was being held on $1 million bail.

Penny Hobson of Pierce County Jail’s mental health staff interviewed Chanthabouly after his arrest and wrote that he was confused at times, somewhat depressed and having hallucinations.

He “appears to have difficulty with concentration” and said he has trouble remembering things since he began suffering psychotic symptoms about two years ago, she wrote. She said he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital two years ago after attempting suicide.

Suspect understands circumstances, expert says
Chanthabouly told her that medication helped but did not eliminate his symptoms, she wrote. “Based on his history, there may (be) competency concerns.”

Hobson noted that Chanthabouly’s judgment was within normal limits and “currently appears adequate.” He also had a good understanding of his current circumstances, she said.

All inmates undergo routine screening when first booked, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. It helps to determine whether a prisoner needs special attention or needs to be segregated from the main jail population.

Chanthabouly was put into a “crisis cell” his first night in jail so he could be closely monitored, Troyer said.

Witnesses told police Chanthabouly pointed a handgun at Kok, 17, and fired a shot into his face at Henry Foss High School. The shooter stood over Kok and fired twice more, the statement said. The gunman then fled the building.

Public defenders representing Chanthabouly have reviewed Hobson’s evaluation, and said they were examining options for his defense.

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