A Colorado teenager who opened fire at a Denver-area high school last year in what has been described as an ambush attack was sentenced Friday to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
It is not clear when Alec McKinney, now 17, could be eligible for parole. Because of a relatively new state law that deals with juveniles, it is possible he could eligible in around two decades, officials said.
McKinney apologized to the teen’s parents and the other students wounded and traumatized by the attack.
“I will never repeat these actions ever again because the harm I caused is truly too much for anyone to bear,” McKinney said.
Castillo’s father said that he could never forgive McKinney.
“I condemn you to hell. I will never forgive you. I hate you,” John Castillo said, according to NBC affiliate KUSA of Denver.
McKinney was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years on the murder charge, and 38 additional years on other counts. The judge had to include parole in the sentence because of his age, according to the station.
A recent state law allows juvenile defendants to apply for a program to be eligible for parole after serving 25 years, officials said.
If that program is used and if credits earned prison apply to that 25-year term, it’s possible that McKinney could apply for that three-year program in as little as 18 years, the district attorney said.
McKinney was 16 at the time of the attack. Court documents filed in the case have portrayed him as the planner of the attack. He allegedly told police that he wanted others to suffer trauma like he had.
The attack at the school south of Denver was carried out by McKinney and another suspect. Devon Erickson, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, has also been charged.
He has pleaded not guilty, and a trial has been set for September. His lawyers have portrayed McKinney as the ringleader who pressured Erickson to participate.
Because Erickson was an adult at the time of the shooting, if convicted of murder, he will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said.
Six other people were shot by either McKinney or Erickson, and two others were mistakenly shot by a security guard responding to the shooting.
Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said he wanted life without parole for McKinney, but he understands the law. “This was an ambush attack on these kids,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed.