A former Catoctin High School student was sentenced to 20 years in prison after Frederick County sheriff’s deputies uncovered her plot to carry out an attack at the school.

Nicole Cevario, 19, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to possession of explosive material with the intent to create a destructive device, according to a news release from the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Follow Kate Masters on Twitter: @kamamasters.

Kate Masters is the features and food reporter for The Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at kmasters@newspost.com.

(40) comments


I wouldnt presume to guess how many commentors are parents, but those of you who are and are posting judgment of Nicoles parents. If you have teenagers, when you close out your day today in a quiet moment, ask yourself, how well do I really know them? How well do I know their innermost thoughts, fears, struggles? How well do I know their friends? Is there any chance this could happen with my teenager? Most will answer emphatically NO, but i can almost guarantee that later that question will stay with you. i can guarantee there are thoughts and actions happening in your teens lives that would make you shudder. While probably not to this extent, its happening. Please have some sympathy for these parents, especially all the Christians who profess "there but for the grace go I". And i pray that Nicole is treated with respect and given help. It does none of us any good to not get her the help she is obviously wanting so that she can return home healthy. Nicole, there is at least one parent who wants you to be well, not condemned.


Well said bearfoot!





saogirl52 posted:

"Read up on 'sentencing guidelines' in MD. For the most part, judges stay within the guidelines,calculated using the crime committed and the offender's criminal history." [The "Add Reply" box was N/A]

I followed that suggestion and I found the following:


2010 Maryland Code
Subtitle 5 - Destructive Devices
Section 4-503 - Manufacture or possession of destructive device.
§ 4-503. Manufacture or possession of destructive device.

(a) Prohibited.- A person may not knowingly:

(1) manufacture, transport, possess, control, store, sell, distribute, or use a destructive device; or

(2) possess explosive material, incendiary material, or toxic material with intent to create a destructive device.

(b) Penalty.-

(1) A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 25 years or a fine not exceeding $250,000 or both.


So the defendant, Nicole Cevario, received the maximum amount of time allowed by law (with 5 years suspended, which she will have to serve if she trips up in any way while on parole).

I would argue that the maximum sentence should be reserved for a) members or terrorist and/or hate groups, b) those that actually mfr and/or possess a functioning destructive device, and c) those that actually *use* a destructive device (sec. a1) -- rather than merely (a2) ..."intent to create"...

Also, "Destructive device" needs to be clearly defined. As written, this section of the Maryland Code could include small pipe bombs that can barely blow up a mailbox, or even "M-80s" and some fireworks. An aerosol can tossed into a fire is potentially a "destructive device".

Exploding targets (which are very popular with some neighbors) might also qualify -- especially when a large quantity of them are intentionally set off at once (ask me how I know...).

In this particular case, it seems like the materials Ms. Cevario had collected would fall under a reasonable definition of "destructive device", but I'm surprised that there is not some attempt made to define exactly what it is we're talking about. In all seriousness, this section, as written, is very vague.

The bottom line is that it's clear that the sentence in this case -- while within MD Code guidelines -- is excessive. Section (a2), which Ms. Cevario's actions fall under, is clearly less serious than section (a1), yet she received almost the full maximum sentence. As I said above, a cynical person might think that politics had an effect on the outcome.

The parents' reward for making the gut-wrenching decision to turn their own daughter in to the police was having her locked away for 20 years.

There is now a very real possibility that other parents faced with a similar situation will decide they do not want to condemn their own child to a sentence of 20 years or more, in what may be an ordinary prison, not the Patuxent Youthful Offender Program (which is bad enough).

Unintended consequences.


She is a terrorist, and for all you know her parents were afraid of her or knew she was a threat to others.


well done Sheriff J and your team!


Mental illness is hereditary. If she was indeed their biological daughter how come it took so long to discover her stash of destruction? No drugs or anytype of addiction related substance mentioned. Seems that the young lady was suicidal early on but wanted to inflict pain from where it started and I`m not talking about her classmates! Seems that mom and pop could use a check up from the neck up their selfs!!


Don't try to lay guilt on the parents, they are the ones who brought this to the attention of the authorities. The parents' actions may have saved many lives and they should be thanked for not trying to cover up her plans.






Agree. The parents may have saved lives. Easy to cast blame. And sad society does it so easily due to social media.


Pappy - she was 18 at the time of discovery. Parents usually stop snoopin around age 15/16, unless they have reason otherwise. 18. She was 18. An adult.


Pappy, Is your mental illness hereditary? Haven't these parents gone through enough without people like you making foolish accusations?


She didn't kill anyone, her plan was thwarted. Why is she getting so much time in jail? She's going to be even more messed up when she's released. Great job justice system, Charlie Smith give yourself a pat on the back [lol]


She didn't kill anyone BECAUSE her plan was thwarted, she would have carried it out if it hadn't been which was her intent all along. That's why she received the sentence that she did. And don't you think saying that she's going to be even more messed up when she get's released is a bit negative and premature? Ever think that she may benefit and improve herself while incarcerated? It does happen, you know. I agree, great job justice system, Charlie Smith and Judge Rolle both deserve pats on the back! Great team, keep up the good work!


CDReid... yes!


Charlie Smith and Judge Rolle are not a 'team' -- at least they shouldn't be.

By definition, a judge should be independent.

That said, since the judge determines the sentence, and some judges do have a reputation for being particularly harsh or lenient, it is understandable that some people may come to the conclusion that they are 'teaming up' with the prosecution or the defense.

As for whether or not the defendant would have carried out the attack, the truth is none of us know -- including Rolle, Smith, the defense attorney, and the girl's parents.

Clearly it's a good thing her plan was discovered, and she is *potentially* violent so at a minimum she needs to be locked up until medical professionals determine she is stable and no longer a threat to herself and/or others.

Should there be punishment beyond that? Probably, but 20 years is clearly excessive. The girl is mentally ill. She should be handled like a child or a person who is mentally challenged -- not a member of a hate group or ISIS.

Probably the most damaging part of the outcome of this case is the message it sends to other parents who have 'troubled' children -- "Whatever you do, don't get the authorities involved because they will lock your kid up for 20 years!"

After reading about this case, I'll bet there are a lot of parents who have resolved to attempt to handle issues like this on their own. So by locking this girl up for 20 years, Rolle has all but guaranteed there will be actual attacks on local schools.


By "team," my intention was a prosecutor arguing for an appropriate sentence and a judge granting it based on the evidence presented. I did not mean that the two worked together to put someone away. As far as whether or not the defendant would have carried out an actual attack, "No," none of us truly know if she would have, but that isn't what the judge's decision was based on. It was based on the fact that the evidence showed that her intent was to carry it out. Mentally ill or not, she most certainly showed the potential to be a destructive murderer, and 20 years for doing so was not excessive. She can get help for any mental disorder she may have only if she is willing to.


Just curious, Fawned. What do you think would have been a "fair" punishment? I have total faith in Judge Rolle's decision.


"“It’s a high-security facility, like any other prison, but the curriculum is geared toward offenders with mental health problems,”


Fawned, The article says she chose to get extra time, so she could get treatment while incarcerated. It sounds like she will need a lot of treatment to have any chance at rehabilitation.


Hopefully she will follow through on her treatment, then the next step is contact the Prison Librarian and maybe after 15 years and at the age of 40 she will be released as a darn good lawyer.


I wonder if she ever got her diploma.


Hopefully so.

If not she should be able to get her GED while she's locked up.

Ideally, she'll get a college degree as well, so that when she is released she can contribute to society and support herself.

Many people seem to focus on the punishment aspect of incarceration and forget about rehabilitation. That is short-sighted because without rehabilitation we end up with more crime and more recidivism -- which costs us all more money.

Comment deleted.

She was sentenced to 20 years.


"A former Catoctin High School student was sentenced to 25 years in prison with five years suspended...".


Judge Scott (Rolle) is probably one of the toughest judges I’ve ever seen in Frederick County. If I ever am accused of a crime, I hope I don’t get him as my judge :)


This sentence was a message to all the gun addicts, bomb enthusiasts and thugs that if you commit an act of terror in a public school you will face dire consequences.


Cept, most terr’ists commit suicide, on scene


That, and it's been shown over and over again that stiffer sentences -- including life w/o parole and execution -- are not deterrents.

From a logical/rational point of view, it makes sense that tougher penalties would reduce the amount of crime. However, most crimes are committed by people who are not in their right mind. They aren't thinking about the potential penalty if they get caught.


I'm glad she is going to a facility that has a program designed to help her. I fully agree that when you do the crime, you do the time, but at the same time it is evident that she needs help. Hopefully, one day she will be a be well and can contribute back to society.


Needless to say, her plans were horrific, but many people have "plans" that are never carried out.

How many people have said, "I'm going to kill you/so-and-so/myself!" but never followed through?

How many students have fantasized about "blowing up" a school building (not necessarily harming anyone) but never actually do it?

How many people have daydreamed about killing their boss, or a former spouse or partner -- but have no intention of going through with it?

Obviously, this girl/young woman has the potential to be dangerous and needs psychological help. I was glad to read the following:

"Judge Scott Rolle made the decision to sentence Cevario and recommend she serve her time at the Patuxent Youthful Offender Program, a correctional program with the goal of assisting youthful offenders in their transition to viable adult development, according to online information from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

The program is only eligible to offenders under the age of 21 who are referred by the court at the time of sentencing. Offenders also must have an intellectual impairment or emotional imbalance and be more receptive to remediation through the program than through other forms of incarceration, according to criteria listed online.

"It's a high security facility, like any other prison, but the curriculum is geared toward offenders with mental health problems," Smith said. "Given her plans, there's no doubt that this is the place for her."

It's certainly better than throwing her in prison where her mental/emotional issues would only get worse.

I have to question the length of the sentence though. 20 years?! She did not actually *do* anything. People literally get less time for rape and murder. A cynical person might think that the sentence was affected by political pressure to 'set an example'.

Then again, there's a possibility that 20 years won't be enough. In that case she will be released anyway and people will be in danger.

Chances are though that she will be able to return to society in a lot less than 20 years.

The federal law against voluntary manslaughter states that defendants should receive fines, a prison sentence of not more than ten years or both.

In Maryland the mandatory *maximum* sentence for second degree murder is 30 years. Most offenders receive much less.

Let's say after 5 years the doctors all agree that she is stable and no longer a threat. The guy who was riding his ATV on Michaels Mill Road and caused a wreck in which his cousin was *killed* received 5 years in prison. Perhaps 5 years is enough for someone who the state's attorney admits is mentally ill, and who harmed no one.


I wasn't in court and am just guessing it might gave been written incorrectly. Could it be 25 years with all but 5 years suspended?


She got 20 years, none suspended, followed by 5 years probation, according to updates. She may not do the whole 20, but she will be locked up for a very long time. Her attorneys had to agree to this since it was a plea. The state must have had an air-tight case. Kudos to all involved in this prosecution.


I have teenage children in public school. This is so surreal, so close to home, that I can’t even put my anger and concern into words

The sentencing seems harsh. But, it could have been my child, my niece or nephew that got killed. We have to trust the system.


I think it's kind of harsh too. I just can't imagine turning in my own child but would hope the courts would take that into account. Either way, its just bad all around and glad she is getting help and not straight jail time. She'll be out in 12-15 with good behavior


Your reaction is perfectly understandable.

It's also the reason we have judges determine a sentence. Victims or potential victims are usually too close to the crime to be objective. That's natural.

If we let victims determine the sentence, people would get 40 years for stealing a bicycle.

Same with the court of public opinion -- aka the pitchfork carrying mob. They can actually be more judgmental and harsh than some victims.

Many people are quick to say, "Lock 'em up and throw away the key!" for almost any offense -- until it's *their* friend or family member that's being sentenced.

As scary as it might be to think about what could have happened, the fact is that this girl is mentally ill and she did not actually take any action that harmed anyone.


I know, she did not actually act. If memory serves me correctly, I believe when this discovery (it was a "discovery", as no incident took place) was made, I wrote in the comments that she did not act. And I believe that's where folks pointed out that there is actually a law in place regarding such a situation. I guess the compelling evidence is that she kept a journal, a paper trail.

Ok, so make a statement to anyone thinking of doing such a thing? Like I said earlier, these people doing these acts do so with intents of not coming out alive, whether self inflicted or gov't lead.


She did not take action because her father and mother turned her in. Her plan was to set off explosives at the school and to kill herself. Everything was in place to carry out this act. Thankfully she was stopped before the date of the attack.


Read up on 'sentencing guidelines' in MD. For the most part, judges stay within the guidelines,calculated using the crime committed and the offender's criminal history.


Thank you Judge Rolle.

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