Chardon High School shooter T.J. Lane pleads guilty to murder charges www.privateofficer.com
CHARDON, Ohio Feb 27 2013 — T.J. Lane admitted today that he used a Ruger .22-caliber handgun to spray the Chardon High School cafeteria with bullets a year ago, killing three students and wounding three others in a shooting rampage that became a flashpoint in the national debate for gun control.
Lane, 18, pleaded guilty in Geauga County Common Pleas Court to charges of aggravated murder, attempted aggravated murder and felonious assault. Judge David Fuhry will sentence Lane at 9:30 a.m. on March 19 after a background investigation is completed.
When Lane was asked if he understood that he was pleading guilty to the charges, he answered, “Yes, your honor.”
When asked if his lawyers agreed with his decision to enter a guilty plea, Lane said “No.” Lane made no other statements other than answering the judge’s questions on whether he understood the plea agreement.
The plea came a day before the one-year mark of his early-morning shooting. This week, Chardon and its schools will honor the three students who died — Demetrius Hewlin, 16; Russell King Jr. 17; and Daniel Parmertor, 16.
With his grandparents behind him — and the families of his victims seated nearby — Lane told Fuhry that he was guilty of the charges. As he has in all of his court appearances, Lane lacked any emotion, and he simply admitted to the charges. He made no other statements. His attorneys last year had filed a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges.
He is expected to address the victims’ families when he is sentenced; the families also will speak to Fuhry, marking, for some, the first time they have made a public comment about the shooting.
“Today’s guilty plea by the defendant hopefully will give closure to the families, victims and the community and allow all of us to move forward,” Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz said afterward. “All of (victims’ families) are in 100 percent support of the plea agreement that was reached today.
“Today’s result is the same that would have occurred had we had a jury trial.”
Lane faces life in prison. Because he was a juvenile when the shootings took place, he cannot face the death penalty. It will be up to Fuhry to determine when or if Lane will be eligible for parole. The earliest could be in 26 years, but he also could be sentenced to a term without parole.
It is unclear where Lane will serve his sentence or whether he would obtain mental health care in the prison system. Wherever he is placed, it will be a change from the Geauga County jail, where he has been placed in solitary confinement.
Last year, Dr. Phillip Resnick, a professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University, testified at a hearing in the case that Lane suffers from serious mental problems, including auditory hallucinations, depression and involuntary fantasies that fill his mind.
Lane has admitted to police that he fired 10 shots from the Ruger, which he had obtained from a relative’s home, according to interviews and court records.
Besides killing Demetrius, Russell and Daniel, Lane also shot three other students. Joy Rickers was released from the hospital soon after the shooting, while Nick Walczak is undergoing extensive rehabilitation for his wounds. A sixth student, Nate Mueller, was grazed on the ear by a bullet.
After the shooting, Lane bolted from the school. Geauga County Sheriff’s Deputy Jon Bilicic testified at a hearing in December that he arrested Lane while the youth was sitting in a ditch alongside the road. The boy’s clothes, including a shirt with the word “Killer” in large letters across the front, were wet and muddied. Bilicic said he immediately told Lane of his rights.
After the two began speaking, Lane admitted what he had done.
“I shot people,” Bilicic’s said, quoting Lane. Asked why, Lane replied, “I don’t know,” the deputy said.
Lane lived with his grandparents, Jack and Carole Nolan, in Munson Township, just outside Chardon. He attended Lake Academy in Willoughby, an alternative school. Authorities said he fired the shots as he waited for the bus that took him from Chardon High School each morning.