S A N D I E G O, Aug. 15 -- A San Diego judge today sentenced tearful school shooter Charles "Andy" Williams to 50 years to life in prison, the minimum possible term.
Williams had faced a possible sentence of up to 425 years in prison for his deadly rampage at Santana High School in March 2001.
In imposing the sentence, Judge Herbert Exarhos said a longer term would be tantamount to life imprisonment, a sentence he said he could not impose. He also noted that Williams had expressed remorse.
During the sentencing hearing in a San Diego courtroom, the teen offered a broken apology for his actions as family members of his victims came forward to urge a judge to keep him in prison forever.
"I feel horrible about …" he said in a brief apology before his voice trailed off in sobs, looking larger and more mature than the skinny 15-year-old pictured at the time of his arrest. He said he wished he had never gotten out of bed on the day of the shooting.
"It really hurts me… I'm responsible for… for all this stuff," he said.
Williams pleaded guilty in June to charges of murder and attempted murder in the March 5, 2001, shooting spree at Santana High School in Santee, Calif. Two teens, Bryan Zuckor, 14, and Randy Gordon, 17, were killed and 13 other people were wounded in the shooting spree.
His Freedom Should Be Taken Forever'
Deputy District Attorney Kristin Anton has argued only the maximum sentence would reflect the pain the teen had inflicted on the community.
"His freedom should be taken away forever," she said. She rejected claims that Williams had been driven to violence by abuse and ridicule from his schoolmates.
One of Williams' victims, Ray Serrato, told the court he had forgiven his schoolmate, but urged Exarhos to give him more than the minimum sentence.
"Fifty years is not enough," said Serrato, who still has a bullet lodged in his back from the incident.
Karla Leyva was wounded in her finger during the incident, but said that the emotional scars of the shooting are still with her.