Alfred Dupree III and Victoria McCurley were arrested in October 2017 for plotting an attack at Etowah High School, where they were students. Officials at the time described the teens planning a Columbine-style attack.
Judge Ellen McElyea handed down the sentence after hearing from a number of people, including relatives and law enforcement officers, reported WMAZ.
She sentenced Dupree and McCurley on May 14 to 40 years in prison each, with 20 of the years being probation. The sentence came after each pleaded guilty to six counts of attempted murder and other charges.
The teens’ attorneys tried arguing that the pair both struggled with mental issues while investigators outlined the case they built, which included evidence that the pair had built a homemade bomb and listed the people they intended to kill.
HAPPENING TODAY: The sentencing hearing resumes for two former Etowah HS students who pleaded guilty to planning an attack to kill students, teachers back in 2017. Alfred Dupree and Victoria McCurley’s mental health a primary focus in court Monday. @GoodDayAtlanta pic.twitter.com/xEzOVCgLQO
— Natalie Fultz FOX 5 (@NatalieFFOX5) May 14, 2019
The timeline of the attack wasn’t established but officials said they were able to establish that they were plotting to kill.
“Unlawfully possess and transport a destructive device, to-wit: a container of flammable and combustible material, with the intent that it would be used to kill, injure, and intimidate students and staff at Etowah High School; and to destroy Etowah High School,” the indictment stated, reported 11 Alive.
Sheriff’s Department Cpl. Tim Downing was among those testifying during the case. He read from one of the journals found inside Dupree’s house.
“I envision us moving into the 5,000 foot building from the East Wing, individually throwing down smoke bombs and picking people off as some of the smoke fills the halls, fills the air to begin throwing explosives off a crowd still in sight,” Downing read, reported WSB-TV.
“I think that smoke bombs are a good idea, why not? Let’s go for it. I think we should make it through the lunchroom first, or upstairs—wherever there are more people. We should think about setting up more bombs, though, I just want to kill as many people as I can,” Downing added, reading words written by McCurley.
— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) May 10, 2019
Family members also testified. Alfred Dupree Jr. took the stand and spoke out for his son, saying he never saw Dupree engage in fights with others.
“He would actually shy away from confrontation rather than start any confrontation,” he said, according to WSB.
And Dupree’s aunt, Amy Adams, said the boy had autism and suicidal thoughts. Etowah High junior Skylor Webb
“I kept waiting for this magical 18th birthday where he was going to be grown and mature and these things were going to go away,” she said. “We’re dealing with somebody that needs care, that needs help, that needs more than what I thought.”
Both teenagers apologized before the sentencing, the broadcaster reported.
“I need help,” Dupree said. “I want to be treated for the problems I have. I understand I need punishment, but at some point, I do want to move forward with my life, not in this community, because of the pain and fear I’ve given them.”
Alfred Dupree just told a judge he “has issues” and “needs help.” He apologized to students and staff at Etowah High School
— Ashley Thompson (@AshleyCBS46) May 14, 2019
Students who knew Dupree and McCurley said that there were signs that they were plotting something.
“Like all last year, I saw him at lunch, and he never, like he would make jokes about school shootings and stuff, but he would make funny jokes about them,” Etowah High junior Skylor Webb told 11 Alive in December 2017. “So, we never really took that as a sign. I never thought he’d do anything like that.”
McCurley’s friend Tristan Shirley told WMAZ that her mother had passed away a few years prior to the arrests.
“I knew that she was really depressed and was made fun of a lot but I didn’t know that it was this bad, that it would cause her to do something like this,” Shirley said.
“It kind of makes me upset that I didn’t see the signs and that I stopped talking to her as much because I mean, we don’t really see each other. It hurts my feelings that she didn’t call me so I could try to talk her out of it, try to smack some sense into her something because, I mean, she just ruined her life.”