Chardon school shooter T.J. Lane shocked a Geauga County courtroom this week when he cursed at his victims' families in court and made an obscene gesture, all while wearing a t-shirt with the word 'killer' scrawled on it.
We were more shocked by the judge's lack of action.
Lane had already pleaded guilty to charges that he shot and killed three fellow students of Chardon High School last February and he was in court this week for his sentencing. The victims' families had a chance to speak, and so did Lane. After sitting silent through previous court appearances, his outburst this time was a surprise.
Still, Judge David Fuhry could have attempted to stop the offensive comments and, at the very least, admonished Lane for his actions. As for the t-shirt, the judge claims he didn't see it. How could he not? Surely the judge should be aware of what's going on in his courtroom, or an official of the court could have brought it to his attention right there on the spot. Did he not question why Lane removed his dress shirt? The move was even more upsetting because Lane wore a shirt with the word 'killer' on it the day of the shooting.
Ultimately, the judge sentenced Lane to three life terms without parole and some would say in doing so, he got the last word. But we think it would have shown respect for the victims and their families to stop such an offensive display at the outset.