CHARDON, Ohio (Reuters) – An Ohio teenager wearing a T-shirt with “killer” scrawled on it gave a profane statement and made an obscene gesture in court as he was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Tuesday for killing three students in a school shooting rampage last year.
T.J. Lane, 18, also wounded three students in the attack in a high school cafeteria in Chardon, a small town east of Cleveland, leaving one paralyzed from the waist down.
Lane’s attack in February 2012 was one of several mass shootings in the United States last year, including a massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.
Lane sat facing the families of the children he shot and gave a brief profane statement. He then made an obscene gesture directed at the families before Geauga County Judge David Fuhry imposed the sentence.
Lane had pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him on February 26, a day before the one-year anniversary of his attack. He was charged as an adult, but because he was 17 at the time of the rampage he was ineligible for the death penalty.
Fuhry said Lane lacked remorse and examinations showed he had feigned mental illness. A bright student set to graduate from high school early, Lane instead long planned, prepared for, and then executed the attack, he said.
Lane killed Demetrius Hewlin, 16; Russell King Jr., 17; and Daniel Parmertor, 16. He wounded Nick Walczak, who was paralyzed from the waist down, as well as Nate Mueller and Joy Rickers.
Fuhry sentenced him to three life terms for the aggravated murders and an aggregate of 37 years for the wounding of the other students, all sentences to be served consecutively.
Parmertor’s mother, Dina Parmertor, was among family members who spoke after Lane’s statement and before Fuhry sentenced him.
“I hope you have a cold, rough, unkind, harsh prison life with monsters like yourself,” Dina Parmertor said. “I want you to endure years and years of pain, and abuse, which is in my opinion not harsh enough.”
Holly Walczak, who spoke while her son Nick Walczak looked on from a wheelchair, told Lane he was lucky there were so many police in the courtroom.
“You are evil,” Walczak said. “I will have to eventually forgive you. You will never be in my thoughts again.”
Lane was taken into custody shortly after the attack and confessed to firing 10 rounds from a .22-caliber pistol at the students in the cafeteria.
“This defendant has never shown any remorse and his actions today just confirmed what we have known all along,” Geauga County prosecutor James Flaiz said at the sentencing.
Afterward, Flaiz told reporters he was “totally disgusted” by Lane’s actions in court. Lane also had worn a shirt with “killer” printed on a sleeve the day of the shooting, he said.
Lane had entered the courtroom Tuesday wearing a blue dress shirt over the T-shirt. He removed the dress shirt before the hearing and was sitting at an angle to the judge.
“The court did not notice the shirt and if the court had noticed the shirt it would have stopped the proceedings immediately and made him put on the proper attire,” Fuhry said in a statement read to reporters by a bailiff afterward.
Lane’s attorney, Ian Friedman, told reporters that the defense had no idea Lane was planning those actions on Tuesday.
On the anniversary of Lane’s attack, Chardon students clad in red-and-black school colors walked in a procession from the school to the town square to lay wreaths beneath framed photographs of their slain classmates.
A massacre in December at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, left 26 people dead, including 20 first-graders, sparking a national outcry to curb gun violence and leading President Barack Obama to propose a ban of military-style assault weapons and limits on the capacity of ammunition clips.