The last of the four Winslow Township High plotters has been sentenced…
He said he did it because he was bullied. He said that he did it because his new friends offered him protection, and that he never meant to massacre teachers and students.
He said he did it because he was scared and now knows better.
But in the end, a judge yesterday sentenced a 15-year-old Winslow Township youth to three years in a state juvenile facility, saying that he wasn’t convinced the teen had been rehabilitated and that he still needs intense psychological treatment.
Standing before State Superior Court Judge Angelo DiCamillo, the slight youth stood in a gray suit and striped tie and said he didn’t have the stomach for murder.
“I would have never done it, I’ll tell you that,” said the teen, whose name is being withheld because of his age.
But if you check in the archives you can find his name as it was released by another media outlet.
DiCamillo asked the boy how he had come to be a part of the plot. His friend Edwin DeLeon approached him “and asked me if I wanted to do it, and was I interested. I agreed and said yes,” the teen said.
The boy maintained that he agreed only to be accepted. “I kind of really wanted to be with that crowd. They were the cool kids to me at that time. I wasn’t fitting in. If I said yes, they’d accept me.”
Addressing the court, the youth’s father said the boy had been a target of bullying since fifth grade and had suffered a broken collarbone and eye orbit at the hands of other children. He had been picked on for years, but his new friends offered him something he had never had before: the chance to fit in, the chance to be safe.
When his son began hanging around the two older boys – DeLeon, 15, and Peter Cunningham, 16 – they had already concocted the plot, the father said. “Suddenly, nobody bothered him,” he said. “I understood why he said yes.”
I don’t. In the 12 years that I was bullied and picked on I never once thought of resorting to murder. If one of my kids had I still wouldn’t understand it.
The boy said he wished he could start over again. “I’m very remorseful of what I’ve done. I wish I could take it all back. I was very immature, I had immature thoughts and feelings.”
The judge agreed, and said that there were lingering effects in the community. “People are afraid to go to school,” he said. “People have refused to go back to school.”
DiCamillo said that the New Jersey State Training School for Boys in Jamesburg would be the best place for the teen, and that although his sentence was longer than those of DeLeon and Cunningham, who will both be eligible for parole in about a year, he would consider lightening the boy’s term in six months.
In these situations, I always have to ask is he remorseful for what he was planning or is he remorseful because he got caught? Hindsight is 20/20 but this kid committed a crime and now has to pay for his actions.