The judge in the murder case of Ohio school shooter T.J. Lane says he did not see the "killer" T-shirt Lane was wearing at Tuesday's sentencing hearing or he would have ordered him to change clothes.
Lane, who pleaded guilty last month to killing three students at an alternative high school in Chardon, walked into the courtroom and took off a button shirt, revealing a white T-shirt with the word "killer" scrawled in pen. Lane wore a similar shirt on Feb. 26, 2012 -- the day he fired 10 shots into the school cafeteria.
Judge David Fuhry issued a statement after the hearing:
"The court was unaware of the shirt. The court did not notice the shirt. Had the court noticed the shirt, the court would have immediately stopped the proceedings, adjourned the court and the court would have ordered the defendant to put on proper attire."
Sheriff Dan McClelland said inmates are allowed to have pens to write letters. He said the shirt was covered and no deputies saw it until Lane displayed it in the courtroom.
Defense lawyer Ian Friedman said he did not know about the shirt in advance.
"The defense would like to again extend its prayers and thoughts to all those who have been affected by this terrible case," Friedman said.
Lane, 18, added to his abrasive court appearance by making a brief statement: "The hand that pulled the trigger that killed your sons now masturbates to their memory. (Expletive) all of you," he said, flipping his middle finger at the gallery.
Victims' relatives addressing the court expressed rage at Lane. Holly Walczak told Lane she hated him. Russell King Jr.'s sister referred to him as an "evil, disgusting animal."
Lane, who was sentenced to three life sentences, wasn't eligible for the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of the shootings. Following the shootings, Lane told deputies he didn't know why he fired the shots but said, "It was something I chose to do."
In announcing the sentence, Judge Fuhry noted that Lane had exhibited a lack of compassion and no remorse during the proceedings. The judge said there was no evidence that Lane suffered from mental impairment and added that Lane knew what he was doing was wrong.
Fuhry described the shootings as a "merciless rampage," adding "We haven't been provided a clear motive or even a murky one."