CHARDON, Ohio — Wearing a T-shirt with "killer" scrawled across it, smirking and gesturing obscenely, a teen who killed three students and wounded three more was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole.
T.J. Lane, 18, had pleaded guilty last month on the anniversary of the Feb. 27, 2012, attack at Chardon High School, about 25 miles east of Cleveland.
As relatives of those killed addressed the court, Lane stared with a smirk on his face.
The mother of victim Daniel Parmertor, 16, called Lane a "vile coward" and "a pathetic excuse for a human being," wishing him a slow, painful death. Dina Parmertor also said she has nightmares, and her family has been physically sick because of the crimes.
"From now on, he will only be a killer," she said, as Lane's smile widened. "I want him to feel my anger toward him."
Holly Walczak expressed her hatred of the shooter. Her son Nick Walczak, now 18, was shot four times and is now paralyzed.
Before the case went to adult court last year, a juvenile court judge ruled that Lane was mentally competent to stand trial despite evidence that he suffers from hallucinations, psychosis and fantasies. Investigators have said he admitted to the shooting but said he didn't know why he did it.
"It was something I chose to do," Lane told deputies at the time.
In sentencing Lane, Judge David Fuhry of Geauga County Common Pleas Court here noted that Lane had exhibited a lack of compassion, had no remorse and knew he was doing wrong. Fuhry described the shootings in Chardon High's cafeteria where students were waiting before school as a "merciless rampage. ... We haven't been provided a clear motive or even a murky one."
Prosecutors say Lane took a .22-caliber pistol and a knife to the school and fired 10 shots at a group of students in the cafeteria. Daniel Parmertor and Demetrius Hewlin, both 16, and Russell King Jr., 17, were killed.
Lane was at Chardon waiting for a bus to an alternative school he attended for students who haven't done well in traditional settings.
He faced three aggravated murder charges, and the sentences will run consecutively. He also pleaded guilty last month to two counts of attempted aggravated murder and one count of felonious assault.
Lane's lawyer Ian Friedman told the court during the sentencing hearing that Lane did not wish his defense team to present any witnesses, statements or other evidence to mitigate his sentence. Lane did not face the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of the crimes.
The teen entered the court wearing a button-down shirt but took that off to reveal a white T-shirt with the word "killer" handwritten in marker on it. The prosecution noted that the shirt was similar to one Lane wore during the shootings.
At one point, Lane swiveled around in his chair toward the gallery where his own family members and those of the slain teenagers were sitting and spoke suddenly, surprising even his lawyer.
"The hand that pulls the trigger that killed your sons now masturbates to the memory," he said, then he cursed at and raised his middle finger toward the victims' relatives.
A student wounded in the rampage dismissed the outburst.
"He said it like a scared little boy and couldn't talk slow enough that anyone could understand him," said Nate Mueller, who was nicked in the ear in the shooting.
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