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Published: Friday, 11/14/2008

Jonesboro shooter gets more penitentiary time in Arkansas

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Mitchell Johnson Mitchell Johnson
AP Enlarge

LITTLE ROCK Jonesboro school shooter Mitchell Johnson was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison and could remain behind bars well into his 30s.

Johnson, 24, had faced a maximum 30 years for stealing a debit card and possessing marijuana.

Before he begins his state sentence, he must serve a four-year federal term he received last month on a weapons conviction.

Johnson was 13 in 1998 when he and Andrew Golden, then 11, shot at students and teachers at Jonesboro Westside Middle School. The boys killed three fellow students and an English teacher, wounding 10 other people.

At the time of the massacre, Arkansas could only hold Johnson and Golden until age 18. But federal prosecutors secured convictions on weapons charges that kept them in prison until age 21, when they were freed.

In the latest case, Johnson pleaded guilty in Benton County court to theft and financial identity fraud, both felonies, and to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. He took a debit card left by a disabled man at the gas station where he worked.

Police said that when Johnson was arrested Feb. 2, he was in possession of marijuana.

County prosecutor Vance Stone said he was satisfied with the sentence, especially since Johnson technically had no criminal record from the Jonesboro shooting.

Yet Mr. Stone had harsh words for him at his sentencing hearing.

Johnson committed one of the most horrible crimes imaginable and he has no regard for the law, as reflected by his federal crime and his state crime, Mr. Stone said.

Mr. Stone said Johnson gave a brief statement at the hearing asking for leniency. Scott McElveen, who served as Johnson s public defender, did not immediately return a call Friday.



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