MOSES LAKE – Frontier Middle School shooter Barry Loukaitis will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Judge Pro Tem Michael Cooper agreed with the state’s recommendation and re-sentenced the now 36-year-old Loukaitis to 189 years in prison.
The family members of slain students Manuel Vela and Arnie Fritz, and teacher Leona Caires, along with student Natalie Hintz, who survived a gunshot wound, spoke during the hearing, many directly to Loukaitis, who, like many others, sat in the courtroom with tears in his eyes.
Loukaitis addressed the court Wednesday afternoon and said the longest possible sentence is appropriate.
“I know everything I say is unpleasant in this courtroom and this community and I’m sorry for that,” Loukaitis said. “I went a long time, I didn’t apologize for what I did. Some don’t want me to and others are very upset that I didn’t. I am sorry for what I did. I know it doesn’t make anything better. It doesn’t replace what I did. You should have your loved ones back. You should have your lives back. What I did was weak and evil and senseless. I’m sorry for putting you through it, every bit of pain."
Loukaitis was 14 in 1996 when he shot and killed Caires, 49, and students Vela and Fritz, both 14-years-old, and injured then 13-year-old Hintz.
He was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole and an additional 205 years in prison.
The situation changed in 2012 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for children younger than 18 violates the Eighth Amendment.
The state Legislature followed the decision with a change in the state law allowing children convicted of aggravated murder in the first degree to be eligible for parole after 25 years.
During Wednesday’s hearing, questions were asked by about why Loukaitis opened fire at the middle school, in which Loukaitis replied “I was afraid, I was angry and I was jealous.”
“I was in a situation where I was going through what everyone else was but I didn’t know that,” Loukaitis said. “Instead of reaching out, I concealed it. It was because I was weak. It was because I was stupid. It was because I was jealous. I was wrong. I didn’t see what things were really like. I was hostile and rude to a lot of people. I was that way because I was putting on a front. I was weak and I knew it and I wouldn’t admit it to myself. At some point, I told myself I can’t do it anymore and that’s when I made the decision that I made. I felt like I was a good person and other people weren’t. I didn’t see what things were really like.”
Loukaitis filed a six-page handwritten letter to the court last week, apologizing for the first time and indicating he would defer his sentence to the victims.