vided to investigators after the incident. He reported that she had left him for his best friend, Robert Daniele, whom she subsequently married.
The divorce was uncontested. T.J.’s father was granted visitation rights, which he never exercised. His mother received custody of the children. Although the couple agreed to divide much of their joint property, T.J.’s mother also took sole possession of their jointly owned stock of firearms, which she estimated in her testimony as numbering between 10 and 15 guns. Hunting and target shooting were central recreational activities for the family. She participated directly in target shooting and also went on hunting trips, although she said that she did not shoot during the hunting. The guns, however, had been purchased jointly.
The record strongly indicates that T.J. was suicidal before and during the Heritage High School shooting incident, despite the contention of prosecutors to the contrary. It is possible, though uncertain, that he may have been influenced by biological predispositions or examples in his own family. His mother’s brother killed himself; his suicide occurred after he discovered that he had an incurable illness. And T.J.’s father had been institutionalized for suspected suicidal behavior; whether he had actually been suicidal is unclear, but he had been committed for observation after the breakup with T.J.’s mother. T.J. himself never learned of the incident involving his father prior to the incident at Heritage High School. Other experiences much later in his life are far stronger indications of T.J.’s own suicidal intentions.
After T.J.’s mother married Robert Daniele, the family went through a series of residential moves, including three moves in the six years prior to the shooting incident. His stepfather achieved success in business during this period, and the family became affluent. Mr. Daniele traveled often on business, and T.J.’s mother was the primary caretaker for the children, including an older stepbrother from Robert Daniele’s previous marriage.
While T.J.’s interviews indicate that he bore permanent psychological scars from the abrupt separation from his biological father in early childhood, all the evidence points to an outwardly normal and untroubled childhood prior to the family’s eventual move to Rockdale County, Georgia, from Kernersville, North Carolina, when T.J. was in the eighth grade. T.J. appears to have suffered only mild depression prior to that, manifested to others, if at all, only in a tendency to shyness and conformity.
T.J.’s parents separated when he was four and the family was living in Tennessee. A period of two years ensued that are not well documented but that led to his mother’s remarriage to his stepfather, in Louisiana, where the newly constituted family continued to live for the next three years. T.J.’s stepfather was then transferred to Florida, where T.J. attended the fourth grade. Immediately following this move, he experienced trouble with his grades. At this point he was diagnosed with