GREENSBURG, Pa. — Nearly four years after slashing and stabbing 20 students and a security guard at Franklin Regional High School, Alex Hribal was sentenced Monday to 23 1/2 to 60 years in prison for the attack.
Hribal was 16 years old when police said he used two kitchen knives to carry out the attack through the school’s halls. In a manifesto found by investigators, Hribal idolized the Columbine shooters.
He spoke publicly for the first time in court, saying he wants a lasting good to come out of this situation.
"I feel horrible about everything but there's no words to use, nothing I can say to make it all better or fix it.," he said.
Some of the injuries sustained in the April 9, 2014, attack were critical, but all of the victims survived.
While some of them still have scars to remind them of that morning, those that spoke Monday say the mental and psychological scars are much deeper. Family members of one victim called Hribal a terrorist and despicable human being.
Hribal's parents also addressed the court, saying the case was about bullying and mental illness. His mother broke down on the stand, sobbing and saying Alex was their responsibility and told the judge, "I'm the one that should be sentenced, not him."
In October, Hribal, now 20, pleaded guilty to 43 counts of attempted homicide and aggravated assault. The plea deal carried the possibility of over 800 years in jail.
At the time the plea deal was entered, Judge Christopher Feliciani asked Hribal why he pleaded guilty.
“Because I’m guilty,” Hribal responded.
As the case made its way through the court system, Hribal turned down an offer of a 30- to 60-year sentence, attempts to have the case moved to juvenile court were unsuccessful and a guilty but mentally ill plea was denied.
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Hribal's attorney Pat Thomassey has said he was depressed and suffered from a psychotic episode the morning of the stabbing.
"Sentence is what I expected under the circumstances," Thomassey said.
Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said the case wasn't easy.
"The judge had a very difficult job in determining the sentence," he said.
Hribal said he'd rather be incarcerated receiving treatment than being out in the free world on his own without any help. He was also ordered to pay more than $260,000 in restitution.
"Every mental health professional who treated Alex Hribal and asked him about bullying and none of them expressed an opinion of bullying had an effect on his behavior," Peck said.
Thomassey said the case isn't over yet.
"I think the case should've been in juvenile court in the first instance; that's one issue I'll raise on appeal," he said. "The others I've got to think about."
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