CANTON, Ga. — One by one, they came into the courtroom to tell their stories.
"We will suffer with our nightmares of that day," the first witness said. "The victims have families too."
On Tuesday, several victims, who did not want to be identified, asked that their statements be entered into the record as part of the sentencing phase of Alfred Dupree III and Victoria "Gabi" McCurley.
Those teens pleaded guilty to six counts in connection with plans uncovered in October 2017 to attack Etowah High School in what has been compared to the deadly attack on Colorado's Columbine High School in 1999.
The first person, a woman, explained how the lives of her family have forever been altered. She said the victims talk about needing medication to be normal.
She asked the judge to give them the maximum time possible.
The second person said that when her family found out their child was on the hit list, they felt what they called the ultimate betrayal. She said her child now has panic attacks, nightmares and lives in fear. She said that the defendants have no regard for life. In her mind, both defendants should get life.
The testimony of the third victim said the "actions of both Gabi and Alfred have forever changed our family's life."
"Although I know Gabi and Alfred are in jail, I still feel unsafe," she said.
She asked what if they decided to finish their plan if they are ever released from jail? Two of three children attended Etowah High. Every time the story is shared on social media or on the news, it reminds us of what could have happened, she said.
As their teacher, she said she enjoyed them, but she felt this was a betrayal. The fear that this can happen again is now a real reality.
In her impact statement, the fourth victim -- who also did not wish to be identified -- focused on the journals and how the defendant referred to the attacks on Columbine High School.
"We can listen to what the psychologists might say, but the journals leave us with no doubt what they intended to do," the victim said.
Although the crime was averted, it was their intention to put their plan in place -- including a kill list. The defendants allegedly allocated people on the hit list who had annoyed them.
The journals talked about suicide, but they wanted to take as many with them as possible. The recipe for napalm -- it took research and effort to look up how to create napalm.
Following the victim impact statements, both defendants spoke directly to the court. They apologized to the victims, naming each of them.
Given that they faced up to 90 years in prison for their actions, their attorneys pleaded for leniency, insisting that both were mentally ill and needed treatment, not incarceration.
Ultimately, both were given the same sentence -- 20 years in prison, followed by another 20 years on probation.
As she was being led away, McCurley looked at her attorney and said, "I guess they're just gonna lock me up and throw away the key."
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