Wearing a T-shirt with “killer” written on it, a teenager cursed and gestured obscenely as he was given three life sentences on Tuesday for shooting to death three students in an Ohio school cafeteria.
T.J. Lane, 18, had pleaded guilty last month in the shooting in February last year. Investigators have said he admitted to the shooting, but said he did not know why he did it.
Before the case went to adult court last year, a juvenile court judge ruled that Lane was mentally competent to stand trial, despite evidence he suffers from hallucinations, psychosis and fantasies.
After Lane came into the courtroom, he unbuttoned his blue dress shirt to reveal the T-shirt reading “killer,” which the prosecutor noted was similar to the one he wore during the shooting.
At one point, he suddenly swiveled around in his chair toward the gallery where his family members and those of the slain teenagers were sitting.
“The hand that pulled the trigger that killed your sons now masturbates to the memory,” he said, then cursed at and raised his middle finger toward the victims’ relatives.
One of Lane’s defense attorneys, Ian Friedman, said he was caught off-guard by the comments.
The defense had signaled earlier that Lane would not speak in court.
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.
Dina Parmertor, Daniel’s mother, called Lane “a pathetic excuse for a human being.”
“From now on, he will only be a killer,” she said, as Lane’s smile widened.
Life imprisonment without parole was the maximum sentence Lane faced.
He was not eligible for the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of the shootings.
Lane’s sister, Sadie, was in the cafeteria the day of the shooting. She said the brother she saw in court was not the one she remembers.
“It may be hard for some to understand, but I love my brother and hope that wherever the sentencing in life takes him in the future, that he can touch others’ lives in a positive way from the point of view that only he can give,” she said.