GREENSBURG, Pa. — Alex Hribal, the former student charged in the 2014 Franklin Regional High School stabbing pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to 43 counts of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.
Hribal was 16 years old when he was accused of stabbing 20 students and a security guard, all of whom survived.
The plea deal, which carries the possibility of over 800 years, puts an end to a case that shocked the Pittsburgh area and made national news more than three years ago.
Channel 11 News confirmed with the District Attorney's Office that by entering the guilty plea, Hribal will avoid going to trial.
“It’s been a long time for the victims waiting for today. I think they're happy about the fact that now they can see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said.
When Judge Christopher Feliciani asked Hribal on Tuesday why he pleaded guilty, Hribal responded, “Because I’m guilty.”
Thomassey said Hribal and his family decided appropriately and didn't want to put the victim's and their families through a grueling criminal trial.
"He's grown up, he was 16 when this happened, he's 20 now. He's dealing with it, he understands what he did, he's not making any excuses. He stood up there like a man this morning and said I'm guilty,” Pat Thomassey, Hribal’s attorney, said.
Hribal will likely learn his sentence in about 90 days, after a pre-sentencing investigation that was ordered by Feliciani.
“We didn't have much choice but to enter this plea. We didn't want to put all these students and families through a trial, and we didn’t really have a defense other than he's mentally ill,” Thomassey said.
Since the case has moved through the court system, Hribal was initially offered a 30-60 year sentence by prosecutors last year, but he turned it down.
His defense team tried to have his case decertified to juvenile court, but that was unsuccessful.
They then tried to get a guilty but mentally ill plea, but that, too, was denied.
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Hribal was charged with more than 40 counts of attempted homicide and aggravated assault after the stabbing in April 2014.
Police said he brought two kitchen knives into school and made his way slashing and stabbing students down the hall.
Though injuries were critical, everyone survived.
Prosecutors argued that he had the attack planned, citing a manifesto found in which he idolized the Columbine shooters from the late '90s.
Hribal's attorney has said he was depressed and suffered from a psychotic episode that morning three years ago.
Hribal's trial was scheduled to start next month.
Cox Media Group