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Teen-ager pleads guilty to murder in 2001 school shooting

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Associated Press WriterEL CAJON, Calif. (AP) -- A teen-ager pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder for a shooting spree that left two dead at a San Diego-area high school last year.

Charles "Andy" Williams, 16, entered the plea in during what had been scheduled as a readiness hearing.

"Mr. Williams has no desire to cause anymore pain to the victims' families or his family," defense attorney Randy Mize told the judge as several relatives of the victims cried in the courtroom.

The six-minute spree of violence at Santana High School in Santee on March 5, 2001, killed Bryan Zuckor, 14, and Randy Gordon, 17. Eleven other students, a teacher and a campus monitor were wounded.

Williams would have been tried as an adult, but prosecutors had said they would only seek life in prison. He still faces at least 50 years in prison at sentencing Aug. 15.

Williams was a 15-year-old freshman at the time of the shooting. He had just moved to Santee and had been in school for only a few months. Defense attorneys said he was the victim of frequent bullying by others at the school.

Jeff Williams, 41, the boy's father, claimed his son was repeatedly burned with the hot metal of cigarette lighters, suffered welts when he was beaten with a towel and was slammed against a tree twice.

Prosecutors contended they found no evidence to confirm the bullying claim.

Jeff Williams said his son had access to the key to his gun cabinet, but he wasn't concerned because the boy was taught to be responsible with guns.

The attack, which came nearly two years after the 1999 massacre of 15 people at Columbine High School in Colorado, was the first of two shootings in two weeks at schools in San Diego's eastern suburbs.

On March 22, 2001, Jason Hoffman, a student with a history of mental illness, wounded five people at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder and assault, then hanged himself in jail. He was 18.

In ruling that Williams would be tried as an adult, the court had rejected a challenge to a law that requires prosecutors to charge juveniles as adults for certain serious crimes. Prosecutors alleged that Williams was lying in wait for his victims, a circumstance that automatically lands cases in adult court.


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