UNC Charlotte Shooter Gets 2 Life Sentences After Pleading Guilty To All Charges

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —  The man accused of killing two students and injuring four others during a shooting at UNC Charlotte will spend the rest of his life in prison after pleading guilty in court.

Trystan Terrell was facing multiple charges in connection to the April 30th shooting, including two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, and discharging a firearm on educational property. Sources told WCCB Wednesday that the gunman had reached a plea deal with prosecutors and would plead guilty to charges during a Thursday hearing.

Following his guilty plea, the judge sentenced the shooter to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. Terrell was also sentenced to an additional 157-201 months in prison.

Inside the courtroom, the parents of Riley Howell and Reed Parlier faced the man who killed their children and injured four others.

“His life was ended by a selfish, cowardly, soulless waste of a human being. May you rot in hell and experience torture everyday until you’re dead,” said Reed’s mother, Julie Parlier.

“I want the defendant to know that he can’t ever get away with what he did. He has a life time of suffering and prolonged agony that awaits. He is a murderer and there will be no mercy where he is going,” said Natalie Howell.

Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather addressed the media following the court hearing.  He said if Terrell did not take the plea deal he would have faced the death penalty.  However, it could have been years for the case to come to a close due to the mental health of the suspect and anticipated appeals.

You can watch his full news conference below.

WATCH LIVE: We are live outside the Mecklenburg County Courthouse after UNC Charlotte shooting suspect Trystan Terrell pleads guilty to all charges stemming from the deadly shooting.

Posted by WCCB, Charlotte's CW on Thursday, September 19, 2019

 

District Attorney Merriweather also released this statement following today’s outcome:

“Today’s sentence brings to justice the man responsible for taking the lives of Reed and Riley and for inflicting unspeakable harm upon their families, the surviving victims, and the entire UNC Charlotte community. No court proceeding can ever provide true closure to those who have suffered this kind of trauma. But the sentence handed down today does acknowledge the gravity and magnitude of the loss experienced by these families, by those on campus, and by people all across this county. It ensures the man who committed these horrible crimes will never harm anyone again, it places the complete focus of our attention back on those who we have lost, and it allows our community to begin the slow and difficult process of healing and finding peace.”

A statement released by Philip Dubois, Chancellor of UNC Charlotte, echoed Merriweather’s sentiment about Thursday’s plea being a chance for the victims, their families and the community to move forward in their healing.

“Today’s news of the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office reaching a plea agreement resulting in two life sentences for the individual responsible for the April 30 shooting on UNC Charlotte’s campus allows our community to continue healing and brings a definite end to the criminal proceedings.

We will never forget this tragic event, and remain focused on honoring the victims and their families. The Niner Nation Remembrance Commission continues to solicit input from the community on ways to thoughtfully and compassionately remember and memorialize the lives that were lost.” 

Drew Pescaro, one of the students injured during the shooting inside the Kennedy building classroom, issued a statement Wednesday night however, criticizing the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s decision to accept a plea deal. Pescaro said in part, “I feel the DA’s decision showed a sense of weakness, laziness, and that they don’t possess the spine necessary for handling a case as large as this one was.”

You can read his full statement below:

“I was invited to go into the DA’s office for a meeting on Tuesday the 17th a few weeks back. Initially it was intended to explain to us the court process. A week ago I got a call from the DA’s office who sounded excited to hear that they received a plea deal in such a short amount of time and that they were going to accept it. So I go into the meeting Tuesday and they tell us all of the details about the case and any time I had an interjection about why they should push forward with death penalty, the interjected simply by saying it would take “too much time.” I was very mad about this decision and even more mad that they left us on radio silence up until the middle of August and then again until a few weeks ago just to then come to a decision about accepting a plea deal without seeing how us victims felt.

I feel the DA’s decision showed a sense of weakness, laziness, and that they don’t possess the spine necessary for handling a case as large as this one was. To my knowledge there had not been a school shooting in the state of North Carolina until this happened so I knew that a precedent would be set with this case. TT said to the police that he did what he did because he was in debt from the university and didn’t want to have to pay debt and didn’t think he’d be able to get a sufficient paying job. So in his eyes, his best move was to go and shoot 6 people, killing two of them, and make sure to put the gun down before police arrived so that he wouldn’t be killed. He stated himself he was afraid to die and that’s why a plea deal this early didn’t come as a surprise. Without even hearing what we had to say, the DA’s office was happy to accept the deal and pretend like we can all move on with our lives now that it’s over. What they don’t realize is that they are setting a precedent now for anyone who is lazy, doesn’t want to work, pay debt, etc. that as long as you go and kill people and put the gun down before police arrive, you’ll get life in prison. TT knew he wanted to get life in prison when planning this violent act and the DA’s office is rewarding him by giving him exactly what he wanted for doing what he did. It’s sickening and it makes me disappointed in the DA’s office, the City of Charlotte, and the State of North Carolina.

I also just want to add that I don’t mean any disrespect to the other victims or their families by making the decision not to be at the courthouse tomorrow. My decision to not appear at the courthouse simply comes down to feeling let down by the legal system that handled this case so poorly, and not trusting myself to be in the same room as the guy who attempted to kill me and four others, as well as killing two. I wouldn’t be able to control myself in the same room as him and I would get thrown out of the court room for my actions so I found it best not to be there and make a scene.”

For WCCB’s prior coverage of the UNC Charlotte shooting, click HERE.