CHARDON, Ohio– The Chardon High School shooter’s ‘Killer’ T-shirt went unnoticed by the court, but not by family members, during his sentencing Tuesday.
Lane’s entire family appeared horrified at the beginning of the proceeding, as the 18-year-old removed his blue dress shirt to reveal a white T-shirt, with the word “Killer” written across the front in black ink, similar to one he wore on the day of his arrest.
“The brother in the courtroom and that did this is not the brother I knew,” T.J. Lane’s younger sister, Sadie Lane said, referring to the crimes to which her brother pled guilty.
T. J. Lane’s attorney, Ian Friedman, said he had no knowledge of the T-shirt.
“I think everyone felt the effect of that shirt at the same time,” said Friedman.
A spokesperson for the Geauga County Sheriff’s Department said no one inside the jail who encountered Lane had seen the defaced undergarment prior to court. Lt. John Hiscox told FOX 8’s Lorrie Taylor that inmates are allowed to have underwear inside their cells, along with prison jumpsuits. Prisoners are also allowed to have writing materials in their possession, making it easy for Lane to craft a handwritten message on his T-shirt. Dress clothes, worn to court, are provided before an inmate’s transfer to the courthouse. Prisoners are allowed to dress themselves.
When asked why Lane was allowed to wear the defaced shirt during the proceedings, Geauga County Common Pleas Judge David Fuhry said in a written statement:
“The court was unaware of the shirt. The court did not notice the shirt. Had the court noticed the shirt, the court would have immediately stopped the proceedings, adjourned the court and the court would have ordered the defendant to put on proper attire.”
“It may be hard for some to understand but I love my brother and hope wherever the sentencing and life takes him in the future that he can touch other lives in a positive way from a point of view that only he can give,” said Sadie Lane.
Lane’s hands were also free of handcuffs during the proceeding, enabling him to make an obscene gesture to the families of the victims after making a brief statement. A sheriff’s spokesperson told FOX 8 that handcuffs are typically removed once an inmate is seated inside the courtroom, regardless of their crimes.
T.J. Lane’s younger sister spoke on behalf of her family after he received three life sentences in prison.
“I was not only a victim that day, but I also lost my brother,” said Sadie Lane, as she recalled the shooting inside Chardon High School on February 27, 2012. Three students were killed while three others were injured.
“Along with other students, I heard the gunshots and screams, ran for my life, ducked under tables, hid in the teacher’s lounge, not knowing who the shooter was,” she said, “I want to offer my deepest sympathies to all the victims’ families and anyone involved.”
Sadie Lane asked the public to keep her family in its prayers, as they have prayed for those affected by her older brother’s crimes.
“I hope this message of peace, forgiveness and understanding carries with T.J. to a place where those traits are scarce, and I hope that we can all work towards peace and compassion in the future.”