Friday, 29 May 2015

Teenage killer goes to prison for his natural life

I have no sympathy whatsoever for teenage killers who have no qualms about snuffing out the lives of innocent people.

I looked at the appeal of this 17-year-old killer I am writing about and learned from looking at his appeal that his real mane is Thomas M. Lane III. It is my belief that the M stands for Michael as his father’s middle name is also Michael. However, the Internet refers to the 17-year-old killer as T.J Lane.  I have no idea what the J stands for. I will refer to this young killer as T.M Lane, simply Lane or as the young killer.   

T.M Lane who at age 17 went on a shooting spree at Chardon High School in Cleveland Ohio on February 27, 2012 that began around 7.30 a.m. on that day in the cafeteria and resulted in the death of three students—Daniel Parmerto, 16, Russell King Jr., 17, and Demetrius Hewlin, 16, and two others who were injured.                      

Background of T.M Lane

Inspections of dozens of Geauga County Sheriff's Office incident reports obtained by The News-Herald show portraits of the sometimes turbulent family life experienced by T. M  Lane. Adam Joseph Nolan Lane and other siblings from relationships between, Thomas Michael Lane Sr., (the father of the young killer) and two women in the life of the young killer. 

Thomas M. Lane Jr., had a record of his own. There were incident reports for Thomas M. Lane Sr. including two for domestic violence. The first was filed on September 13, 1997. Accordingly, he threw a TV dinner at a woman and pushed her around in their Claridon Township home. He also verbally threatened to kill her before deputies arrived at the scene. He later was found guilty of a felony assault charge springing from the incident. The second report was filed on April 5, 2002, Accordingly, he verbally abused and physically attacked another woman over a period of nine hours in the presence of her three young children. Thomas Lane went on to be charged with assaulting a police officer, and then served prison time for attempting to suffocate his next wife after he held her head under running water, then bashed her head into the wall so hard that it left a dent in the wall.

In 2002, the young killer’s father was confined for a year for attempted murder. He was charged for physically and verbally abusing a woman while her three kids were present.

The News-Herald added that his arrests also included charges of violation of probation, disorderly conduct, public intoxication, and drug abuse and possession of stolen goods.

Geauga County court records show that Lane's father, Thomas Lane Jr., has been arrested multiple times for increasingly violent crimes against women, and may have been abusive towards his son, T.M as well.

It must be apparently obvious that the nut (the young killer) that fell from the tree (his father) was just as rotten as the tree itself.

There were many incident reports examined by The News-Herald resulting from calls made by Carol Nolan to the sheriff’s office to deal with problems arising from the actions of Adam Joseph Nolan (the killer’s half-brother).   According to the sheriff’s records, Nolan had arrests on a wide range of offenses including drug abuse and possession, violation of probation, public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

Previous crimes of T.M Lane

It was just after 8 p.m. on December 9, 2009, when two deputies from the Geauga County Sheriff's Office arrived at the Munson Township residence of Jack and Carol Nolan. They were T. M Lane’s maternal grandparents. They were away from their home that evening but their daughter, Nancy A. Breuning, and son-in-law, John Breuning, both of Huntsburg Township, were at the Nolan residence to keep tabs on the Nolan’s then-16-year-old grandson, Adam Joseph Nolan. T,. M Lane who was also sixteen was also in that home at that time.

The Bruenings had called the Sheriff's Office when Adam, who had a long history of drug abuse and was scheduled to begin rehabilitation for heroin addiction in a few days, began to behave erratically.                                                 

After the deputies thought they'd defused the situation and had left the premises, they were summoned again by Nancy Breuning. A scuffle had broken out between Adam and John Breuning. T.M Lane joined the fray, restraining John Breuning while Adam punched John.                                     

Quickly returning to the scene, the deputies pulled Nolan and T.M Lane off John Breuning. The two boys were handcuffed, arrested, taken to juvenile  detention and later charged with simple assault.

T.M Lane ran afoul of the law again later that month when he punched another boy in the face and also put the boy in a choke hold.       

The shootings at the school by T.M. Lane

Lane took a .22-caliber pistol and a knife to the school. The 17-year old killer admitted to shooting 10 rounds of ammunition from his handgun during the shooting, which began in the school cafeteria at approximately 7:30 a.m., shortly after school began. Although Lane told police that he did not know the victims and that they were chosen randomly, witnesses stated that it appeared he targeted a specific student and the group he was sitting with in the cafeteria.

Lane was sitting alone at a table in the cafeteria with his book bag on the table. He watched a group of eight to nine students who were talking to each other at a nearby table. Lane then moved to a table directly behind this group of students and continued to watch them. One of these students, Nick Walczak, was standing at the end of the table and the others were seated, some with their backs Lane and others were facing in Lane’s direction. After watching these students for about eight minutes, Lane went through his book bag and pulled out a handgun and a knife. Lane then stood up and aimed his gun at the group of students in front of him and started shooting. Lane shot Russell King in the back of his head. He also shot Nick Walczak who fell to the floor. Lane then walked around his table and along the victims’ table while repeatedly shooting at them. He shot Demetrius Hewlin in his head and also shot Daniel Parmertor in his head. Two other students, Nate Mueller and Joy Rickers, were also shot

Everyone in the cafeteria ran out. Lane also ran out of the cafeteria with his gun and knife in his hands. The video taken by a security camera in the adjoining hallway shows a large group of students running frantically from the cafeteria and down the hallway. While Nick Walczak is limping down the hallway, Lane ran up to him from behind and shot him again, this time in the back of his neck at close range. While Lane was running up to Nick, one can see across the chest of lane’s long-sleeve, pullover shirt in large bold letters the word, “Killer.” Nick fell to the floor and Lane ran away from him. Nick is now paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.

After the shooting occurred, Lane left the building. Witnesses stated he was chased from the building by a teacher, and was arrested a short time later in a location outside the school. Lane was ultimately charged and later indicted on three counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated attempted murder, and one count of felonious assault. (The term ‘aggravated murder’ means that the murder was pre-meditated, the same applies to the charge of attempted aggravated murder).

Six days before his shooting rampage, Lane had sent a text message to his sister, Sadie who attended Chardon High school, and mentioned a school shooting, He didn`t mention which school he was referring to. Sadie later said that the brother she saw in court wasn't the one she remembers before the shooting.

When she was testifying in court, she said, “It may be hard for some to understand, but I love my brother and hope that whatever the sentencing in life takes him in the future, that he can touch others' lives in a positive way from the point of view that only he can give.”

Quite frankly, I doubt that this sociopath will ever change. Sociopaths are incapable of normal emotions such as love and empathy for the suffering of others. They generally react without considering the consequences of their actions and show extreme egocentric and narcissistic behavior. Their behavior is tougher to identify than one might assume, but there are still signs.

While no one wants to think they are living with or next door to Hannibal Lecter or Ted Bundy, there are some signs to look for that might indicate that your family member or neighbor is exhibiting some psychopathic behavior.

Their behaviors include superficial charm, absence of delusions and related irrational thinking patterns, unreliability, regularly tell lies and they show high levels of insincerity and lack of remorse or shame. Despite being charming, they may also appear to be cocky and self-centered.Sociopaths can use their charm to manipulate others into doing things that they may not want to do. They tend to be really good at it because they believe what they are doing is OK or they simply do not care that society views their behavior as being wrong.

Other traits of sociopaths include antisocial behavior, poor judgment and failure to learn from their experiences in life, an inability to love, failure to have goals and objectives, and unresponsiveness in regards to interpersonal relations with colleagues, neighbors, classmates or people in general. Tied to these behaviors is a high level of impulsiveness since psychopaths are not necessarily concerned with consequences or hurting others. So, they may also be viewed as callous, predatory and selfish. These signs may have often appeared at a younger age and set the precedent for criminal activity and a socially detached lifestyle.

Although many of these signs seem like they would make it fairly easy to spot the psychopath, the troublesome aspect to this type of disorder is that it can be difficult to identify. Sociopaths are somewhat like chameleons in the way they adapt their personalities and hide their true personality. They may even lead what seems like an ordinary life with jobs and relationships. However, their life is often like a personal hurricane with sporadic bouts of chaos, rage, and violence—a sign that something is definitely wrong with that person.

A sociopath who kills his victims cannot hope to be cured in a matter of months. It would take years and it’s even possible that such a sociopath will never be cured.  Further, what are the chances that a sociopath who is serving a sentence of natural life in prison will even get treatment for his disorder? What would be the point giving him treatment since he will never be released back into society again. 

Lane’s bail was set at one million dollars. A year after the school shooting Lane faced the court in front of the surviving victims and the parents of the murdered victims. This horrible monster cursed and gestured obscenely in front of the victims’ families. He also unbuttoned his blue shirt during the hearing and revealed a T-shirt he was wearing that said “KILLER,” written in black marker. The court acknowledged that this may have been the same T-shirt that Lane wore at the shooting.

When he said that he wanted to speak before the sentencing, he was given permission. He was calm during his statement that was addressed directly to the families of the victims.  He had previously been smiling and smirking as four relatives of his four victims spoke about their anguish.  During his address to the relatives of the victims, he flipped his middle finger up in the air in front of the parents of the victims and said, “The hand that pulled the trigger that killed your sons now masturbates to my memory. Fuck all of you.”  

He knew that he was going to be sentenced to life in prison without parole so he was aware that by doing what he did in court when addressing the families of the victims, he had nothing to lose by acting like the monster he was and still is. 

If he had committed those killings in a Canadian school while under the age of eighteen, he would have been tried as an adult however as per Canadian law, he would only have to spend ten years in custody.  In the United States, the various state laws are not so kind to young killers.

A Florida boy was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for playing what turned out to be a deadly game. John Silva, 15, was convicted of first-degree murder for binding a playmate with elastic bandages and wire so tightly that he suffocated. He received the mandatory sentence of life in jail without parole. Had he been an adult, he could have faced the death penalty. Another boy, age 14, received the same natural life sentence for killing a 6-year-old girl by flinging her around a room so hard she suffered a fractured skull, ruptured kidney, broken rib and 32 other injuries. The boy said he was imitating professional wrestling moves.

I am not convinced that such heavy sentences should have been given to those boys. Imprisonment for them, yes but not life in prison without parole. I had hoped that such severe sentences had come to an end when many years ago a 14-year-old black boy was executed in the electric chair.

On March 19, 2013, Lane was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He wasn't eligible for the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of the shootings.  In addition to the three life terms for the aggravated murders, the judge imposed a total of 25 years in prison on the other offenses and 12 years for the 13 firearm specifications, for a total of 37 years in prison. Each of these prison terms was ordered to be served consecutively to each other. In his case, I think the sentence was appropriate because releasing that sociopath back into society would put the members of society at an extreme risk.

Lane’s lawyer appealed the sentence on the grounds that the sentence of life in prison without parole is unconstitutional and whether Lane’s sentence to life in prison without parole violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment considering the fact that he was only 17 when he committed the crimes of murder.

Lane admitted that he was able to successfully manipulate Ravenwood mental health staff at the jail to believe he was mentally ill. He said he feigned symptoms of being depressed, suicidal, sexually abused, psychotic, and schizophrenic. He said he was able to force himself to cry when necessary to convince staff he was depressed.

He told the staff at the Geauga County Safety Center, (local sheriff’s jail) that he was claustrophobic so he could be placed with the general jail population instead of being segregated from the other inmates. Regarding the voices he reported to staff, Lane admitted that he made it all up. Now you can appreciate why I said that this young man should never, ever be permitted to apply for parole. Anything he would say about him being reformed would be made up. A ‘life in prison without parole sentence’ implies that rehabilitation for the murderer is impossible

I should point out however that the United States Supreme Court held that a mandatory life-without-parole sentence for juvenile homicide offenders is cruel and unusual punishment.

Ohio’s sentencing scheme does not run afoul of that particular US Supreme Court ruling, because the sentence of life without parole in that state is discretionary. Sentencing a juvenile offender who commits murder to death is cruel and unusual punishment as per the US Supreme Court  and that is why Lane was not sentenced to death.

It is worth noting that the United States Supreme Court stated that 44 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government permit sentences of life without parole for juvenile homicide offenders.

A sentencing court must consider mitigating circumstances, including the juvenile’s youth and its attendant circumstances, before a juvenile homicide offender can be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The trial judge in Lane’s case considered all aspects of Lane’s background and his crimes and thus, the trial court’s sentence complied with the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. 

First, the trial judge considered Lane’s age and level of maturity. The judge noted he was 17 and one-half years old at the time of his crimes. He was an intelligent student planning to graduate early and to attend college. He considered himself to be mature for his age. He suffered no mental or cognitive impairment. He was not insane, incompetent, or impaired at any relevant time. The judge also noted that, while there were and are no mental impairment issues, Lane had feigned symptoms of mental illness when interacting with Dr. Resnick and the jail staff. The judge also noted that Lane knew that what he did was wrong. This is why he hid his weapons in his book bag; fled from the school after the shooting; and acknowledged his wrongdoing soon after he was apprehended.

Second, the trial judge considered Lane’s home and family environment. The court noted that he had a tumultuous upbringing, both as an infant and as an adolescent. His parents lost custody of him when he was three years old because they did not properly care for him. However, since that time, Lane’s maternal grandparents had provided a home for him; had raised him; and have been loving and caring guardians. The court noted that Lane sought to better himself by holding various jobs and transferring to Lake Academy, which allowed him to work while going to school.

Third, the trial judge stated that many juvenile offenders are manipulated or pressured into committing crime by adults or peers who urge or incite the juvenile to commit crimes. They prey upon the vulnerability of an impressionable youth. That didn’t occur here. These crimes were all Lane’s, doing and he was not an impressionable youth. He did these crimes on his own. The judge noted that Lane planned, prepared for, and executed this scheme by himself. He was not manipulated or pressured by anyone into committing these crimes. He confided in no one and he had no accomplice. The judge explicitly stated that he considered each of the foregoing factors before imposing the sentence of life without parole on Lane.

Fourth, the trial judge noted that Lane planned his attack long before the shootings and methodically carried out that plan. He stole a handgun, two magazines, and bullets from his uncle the day before the shootings. The night before, he loaded both magazines and put one in the gun. The morning of the shootings, he put the gun, the spare magazine and a knife in his book bag, and hid them there until he took them out in the cafeteria. He intentionally dressed the part by wearing a shirt with the word “Killer” labeled across the chest. Further, he was relentless in his shooting. He ambushed eight unsuspecting students who were talking with each other and did nothing to provoke him.

Fifth, the judge noted that Lane shown no remorse, making him more likely to re-offend. In his interview with the detectives, Lane said that after he fired the first few rounds, he regretted it and felt terrible. However, the judge noted that he repeatedly shot his gun at students in the cafeteria and in the hall until all rounds in the 31 clip had been fired. Further, when he was informed at the Safety Center during his interview that one of his victims had died, he showed no remorse whatsoever. The fact that he cursed and flipped his finger up when making his final statement in court is proof positive that he had no remorse at all at shooting his fellow students to death and wounding others.

Sixth, the trial judge noted that Lane never stated his motive for this merciless rampage. The judge noted that, while being interrogated, Lane said he did not know why he shot people. He said it was just something he chose to do. The judge stated that, while Lane’s motive was unclear, it appeared he wanted to make a name for himself and to make front page news—which is exactly what he had done.

The judges in the appellant court said in part;

“We cannot say appellant’s sentence of life in prison without parole is so disproportionate to the crimes he committed as to shock the community’s sense of justice. Although appellant’s sentence is severe, it is not disproportionately so. In addition, appellant’s sentence was within the statutory range for each count of which he was convicted. We therefore hold (decide) that the appellant’s sentence did not amount to cruel and unusual punishment.”

If Lane’s new lawyer had sought relief from the US Supreme Court, he would have got about as much sympathy from that court as a hog gets when it is in the slaughter house. Obviously, no such relief was sought.

Can you believe it? He was transferred to the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Ohio that is a minimum and medium security prison so it was easy for him and two fellow prisoners to escape using a makeshift ladder to scale a fence during recreation hours. Lane then 19 was caught only about 100 yards from the prison by two state troopers at 1:20 a.m. He had been free for only six hours.

This monster was then placed in the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio where some of the state's most violent and deviant predators are placed. Nearly two of every three inmates at that prison are gang members, the highest percentage of any prison in Ohio. The greatest percentage of its inmates is between the ages of 26 to 30. Some are like Lane, and will never see freedom. That is where he was to serve his sentence and serve it in the maximum-security portion of the prison.  Family visits and phone calls are monitored extremely closely, and many inmates leave their cells for only an hour a day. Meals for most prisoners are shuttled to cells in boxes, rather than being served in a dining area. For inmates who are allowed to leave their cells, guards watch them carefully and strive to keep them moving and separated from one another. The prison is divided into two sections: the super-maximum and the maximum portion. In the super-max, the state's worst inmates (about 120) live in cells about the size of a parking space. They stay there 23 hours a day. If they want to exercise outside, they can go into a fenced-in area that has a screen above them for the one hour they are free from their cells. Lane was placed in a cell by himself, and he could not interact with other inmates in the prison. Correctional officers were closely monitoring his movements. This monster will never escape from that prison.

It has been said that keeping a prisoner in his cell for year after year can be determined as being a form of cruel and unusual punishment. That may be so but as far as I am concerned and I am sure I speak for a great many others, in Lane’s case, who gives a tinkers dam the he is suffering in his cell?

In 1972, I was invited by the head of corrections in California to visit the state prisons. While visiting the San Quentin state prison in San Francisco, I was taken to a cell that was far from any other cells where a man was spending the rest of his life.  By 1972, he had been in that cell for eight years. He had been convicted of killing someone outside of the prison and later convicted of killing a prison guard inside the prison.

He was not insane and accepted his fate. He had books to read, he could paint and he could turn on or off the TV hanging on a wall outside his cell. He could even turn off the light in his cell if he wanted to do so. It wasn’t until this century that the court ruled that he was to be placed in the general population of the prison. 

I sincerely doubt that T.N Lane will be given that opportunity. He probably will be permitted to read books and watch TV and spend an hour sometime during the day in an outside enclosed cage. The rest of his life will be one of misery in his parking area sized cell.  Do I care? Do I care when I swat a mosquito that is stupid enough to land on my arm? There is your answer. 

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