MOSES LAKE, Wash. – The state is recommending the man convicted of shooting and killing three people at a Moses Lake middle school in 1996 be re-sentenced to 189 years in prison.
Barry Loukaitis was just 14-years-old when he killed a teacher and two fellow students at Frontier Middle School. He was sentenced to life in prison. So far, he has served more than 20 years.
The state has to re-sentence Loukaitis because of a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that found teenagers younger than 16-years-old cannot be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Loukaitis filed a handwritten letter in court last week, apologizing for his actions and agreeing not to fight the re-sentencing.
“I’ve never apologized for what I’ve done,” Loukaitis wrote in the letter. “I didn’t because I feared that trying to apologize after doing something so terrible would only add insult to injury. If that feeling was wrong, I’m sorry for not speaking before. I’m sorry for denying people what they deserve to hear.”
“I wish I only owed one apology. A measure of the horror I’ve caused is that I owe much more than I can ever repay and have much more for which to apologize. All I can do is ensure my apologies aren’t empty,” he wrote.
The letter specifically addresses the victims of the shooting, and apologizes to them and their families.
Last year, it was decided that the judge assigned to Loukaitis' original sentencing, Judge Michael Cooper, would be appointed to do the future sentencing. Cooper has been brought out of retirement to preside over the case.
“Your Honor, you once said that if there was any case that kept you awake at night, it was this one,” wrote Loukaitis in his letter. “You should never have had to deal with this. None of this should have happened in the first place, but if it did, I could have at least have had the decency to have pled guilty instead of trying to escape justice. I put you and an entire community through an agonizing, senseless and expensive process in an attempt to flee from justice. I apologize to you and them.”
The Spokane County Prosecutor's office, at last check, was handling the case because Lokaitis' old defense attorneys now works for the Grant County Prosecutor. According to court documents, the state made the 189 years recommendation because of the number of victims, the fact he deliberately chose a class in session and understood there would be many victims at the time of the shooting.
Loukaitis is scheduled for his re-sentencing hearing on April 19, 2017. The Spokane County prosecutor said multiple victims plan to address the court at the hearing, though Judge Cooper has limited their time to 10 minutes each. Judge Cooper may issue his decision at that hearing or decide he needs more time to deliberate.