Cory Ryder, 17, appeared before St Mary's Court in Leonardtown, Maryland, on two counts of the attempted murder of his mother, Shannan Troiana, and stepfather, Joey Troiana. If found guilty, he cannot be held beyond the age of 21 because he is being tried as a juvenile.
The prosecution said that Ryder offered an undercover policeman, whom he believed to be a hit man, his stepfather's new pick-up truck as payment for his work, telling him: "Two bullets is all it takes."
According to detectives, the sting was set up when Ryder told the mother of one of his friends that he wanted to kill his parents. The woman contacted police, who directed her to tell him he could meet a hit man in a hotel. The "hit man" was a police officer wearing a recording "wire".
Troiana is due to be a main prosecution witness. "He needs to understand what he did was wrong," she told a judge at a hearing in September. "I'm scared to death that if this kid is serious, and they put him in a three-month programme, they're going to release him to the street."
Ryder has told Juvenile Services officials that he was angry that his parents had first confiscated his PlayStation and grounded him then thrown him out of the house and said that he felt under pressure to meet the man at the hotel, protesting that he never had any intention to kill. His defence lawyer theorised that Ryder might have heard the "two bullets" statement on television and that he parroted it without really meaning it. He accused the Troianos, a middle-class couple living in an affluent area of southern Maryland, of being bad parents.
When Ryder was 14, The Washington Post reported, he smashed a glass fire extinguisher case and broke into the local fairground and vandalised it. He was sentenced to probation and later dropped out of school.
His parents said he broke into their room, stole $46 (Dh169) from his sister's piggy bank and had a fight with his mother that ended with him being told to get out. He slept in his truck and then with friends.
Troiano checked her son's MySpace page and found he was a fan of hard-core rap music - something she had already suspected because of his clothes and defiant manner.
After the sting, Ryder was sent to a reform school. His mother received two letters from him that appeared to show he had softened. "You know I love you with all my heart mom!" he wrote in the first. The second one said: "Mom, thank you for everything you ever did for me!"
But Troiano's friends told her that she was being manipulated and after much agonising she decided to support prosecutors who wanted him tried as an adult, which could have led to his spending most of his life behind bars. The judge, however, ruled differently and now Troiano fears what Ryder might do to her when he is released. She missed him being at home, she told the newspaper, but was afraid. "I don't know what this kid will do, because it's not my son. That can't be my little boy sitting there."