Chardon: How the TJ Lane deal was done

7:07 PM, Feb 26, 2013   |    comments
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CHARDON -- It's a deal that took nearly a full year to complete but on Tuesday, TJ Lane admitted that he is guilty of murder.

The defense says it was Lane's own decision to plead guilty. It is a plea bargain with little in it for the defendant and, according to the prosecutor, the same offer was extended to the gunman two months ago.

With the same matter-of-fact responses, gunman TJ Lane fought charges against him over the last year. This day, the teenager admitted his guilt.

"It's a plea of guilty. It is a complete admission of each and every element of each crime," defense attorney Ian Friedman said.

Sources close to the case say Geauga Prosecutor Jim Flaiz gave the defense until one day before the one year mark of this ambush shooting to plead.

"It was very important to us. It was very important to the community," Flaiz said.

The hang up has been competency. The first psychological exam found Lane schizophrenic and suffering from hallucinations.

"It is our position those never occurred," Flaiz said.

The prosecutor says a second court-ordered exam found him with above-average intelligence and competent to stand trial. Against his attorney's wishes, Lane took the deal.

"The decision to plead guilty was TJ's and TJ's alone," Friedman said.

"Today's guilty plea by the defendant hopefully will give closure to the families of the victims and the community," Flaiz said.

Whatever this plea gives to the community and the victims, it gives nothing to TJ Lane.

There were no promises of a lighter sentence. He is just as likely to spend the rest of his life in prison.

"This defendant never leaving a prison cell would be the most fair and just result we have in the case," Flaiz said.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 19. Before that there will be a pre-sentence investigation to determine whether there are things in Lane's past for Judge David Fuhry to consider before deciding on a prison term.

The defense said Lane has no intention of making any statements in his own defense nor is he likely to address the victim's families.


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