CHARDON, Ohio - A judge affirmed the Geauga County Common Pleas Court ruling that sent TJ Lane to prison for three life terms for the 2012 Chardon High School shooting.
Lane's attorney challenged an Ohio law that allowed his case to be transferred from juvenile court to adult court, a statute also being challenged in an unrelated case pending before the Ohio Supreme Court involving a 16-year-old sent to prison.
The law requires the transfer to adult court if a juvenile is 16 or 17, accused of one of the most severe offenses, and there is probable cause to believe he committed that act.
Lane's appeal said that violates the right to due process "because it prohibits the court from making any individualized determination of the appropriateness of the transfer of a particular child's case to adult court."
Prosecutors say Lane gave up his right to appeal his sentence when he voluntarily pleaded guilty, citing U.S. Supreme Court precedent and a recent Ohio case.
"Under the eyes of Ohio law (Lane's) conduct was an adult criminal act," Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz wrote in response to the appeal.
Lane was at the Chardon school waiting for a bus to his alternative school when he fired at students in the cafeteria, investigators said.
Daniel Parmertor and Demetrius Hewlin, both 16, and Russell King Jr., 17, were killed. Three other students were wounded. Investigators have said Lane admitted to the shooting but said he didn't know why he did it.
As of 2012, there were about 2,500 people in the U.S. serving life sentences for homicides that occurred when they were juveniles, but the current number is difficult to track because a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that year raised the possibility that hundreds of those sentences may be called into question, said Marsha Levick, chief counsel for the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Juvenile Law Center.
Giving juveniles life terms without parole "means that we're making these decisions on day one of sentencing about who Lane or any other juvenile will be 30, 40, 50 years from now," Levick said. "And it's almost impossible to make that decision or to know who he will become as an adult."