Tracey Read , The News-Herald
The 11th District Court of Appeals has unanimously affirmed Thomas M. T.J. Lane IIIs conviction and sentence in the Chardon High School shootings.
Lane, now 19, argued he should not have been sentenced to life without parole since he was a juvenile at the time of the murders.
A panel of three judges heard oral arguments for and against the appeal for Lane, who shot and killed three students on Feb. 27, 2012, at the high school.
Appellate attorney Michael Partlow said Lane should not have automatically been bound over as an adult just because he was 17 at the time, and that trying him as an adult was cruel and unusual punishment.
Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz said a mandatory juvenile bindover in aggravated homicide cases is constitutional.
In a 3-0 opinion, 11th District Judge Cynthia Westcott Rice agreed with Flaiz, noting that Geagua County Common Pleas Judge David L. Fuhry took Lanes age, level of maturity and home environment into consideration.
The court noted he was 17 and one-half years old at the time of his crimes, Rice stated. He was an intelligent student planning to graduate early and to attend college. He considered himself to be mature for his age. He suffered no mental or cognitive impairment. He was not insane, incompetent, or impaired at any relevant time. The court noted that appellant knew what he did was wrong. This is why he hid his weapons in his book bag; fled from the school after the shooting; and acknowledged his wrongdoing soon after he was apprehended.
The court noted that he had a tumultuous upbringing, both as an infant and as an adolescent. His parents lost custody of him when he was three years old because they did not properly take care for him. However, since that time, (Lanes) maternal grandparents have provided a home for him; have raised him; and have been loving and caring guardians. The court noted that (Lane) sought to better himself by holding various jobs and transferring to Lake Academy, which allowed him to work while going to school.
Rice added that Lane had no accomplice and planned and executed the scheme all by himself.
In addition, the judge noted Lane stole a handgun, two magazines and bullets from his uncle the day before the shootings.
He intentionally dressed the part by wearing a shirt with the word Killer labeled across the chest, Rice wrote. Further, appellant was relentless in his shooting. He ambushed eight unsuspecting students who were talking with each other and did nothing to provoke him.
Rice added that Lane never stated his motive for the rampage, telling police he didnt know why he shot people.
While appellants motive was unclear, it appeared he wanted to make a name for himself and to make front page news, Rice wrote. Thus, it was no coincidence that on the day of the shootings, (Lane) boldly and brazenly wore a shirt that displayed across his chest the word Killer.
The judicial panel called Lane an extremely dangerous person who showed no remorse for the victims or their families.
The judges also rejected Lanes argument that his defense team was ineffective.
Eleventh District judges Timothy P. Cannon and Thomas R. Wright concurred with Rices opinion.
Flaiz previously said he anticipates the case will be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
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Accused Chardon shooter T.J. Lane ruled competent (video) (May 2, 2012)
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Judge releases documents related to paternity of T.J. Lane (with documents) (March 13, 2012)
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Lane confirmed as suspect in Chardon High School shooting (Feb. 28, 2012)
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About the Author
Tracey Read covers the court beat in Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties. Reach the author at [email protected]
or follow Tracey on Twitter: @TraceyReporting .
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