Image: Ryan Schallenberger
Mary Ann Chastain  /  AP file
Ryan Schallenberger, a student suspected of planning an attack on Chesterfield High School, appears before the judge at court in Chesterfield, S.C. on April 22, 2008. Prosecutors agreed to ask for a 10-year prison sentence in this case.
updated 8/5/2009 6:35:05 PM ET 2009-08-05T22:35:05

A South Carolina teen admitted to plotting to blow up his high school Wednesday, and prosecutors agreed to ask for a 10-year prison sentence.

Ryan Schallenberger, 19, pleaded guilty to receiving and attempting to receive an explosive and attempting to damage and destroy real property by explosive. He could have faced up to 30 years in prison. A judge must approve the sentence at a hearing to be held later.

Authorities discovered the plot in April 2008. Schallenberger's step-father called police after he found out the teen had ordered 20 pounds of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be used as an explosive, from a Web site and was trying to have it delivered to their home in Chesterfield, about 55 miles southeast of Charlotte, N.C.

A search uncovered a hate-filled journal lauding the Columbine killers, an audiotape to be played after Schallenberger perished during his rampage, and a year's worth of plans for the bombing that included a hand-drawn map of Chesterfield High School, investigators said.

Schallenberger collected enough material to make bombs that could kill dozens, but his papers didn't include a specific plan or time to carry out his plot, police said at the time.

Schallenberger, who smiled and waved at his parents as he came into the courtroom, takes responsibility for what he did and wished it never happened, defense attorney Bill Nettles said.

"He's ashamed and embarrassed. He was suffering from mental illness then. He's a different person now," Nettles said.

As part of the deal, prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of possessing an unregistered destructive device. That charge carried up to 10 years in prison.

Schallenberger's mother and stepfather were in court Wednesday, but refused to talk to reporters.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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