ELYRIA, Ohio - A northeast Ohio teen who shot and killed his mother and wounded his minister father was sentenced yesterday to 23 years to life in prison for crimes rooted in his obsession with video games with violent themes.
Daniel Petric, 17, who could have gotten life without parole, shook his head slightly, sniffled and held back tears but sat down without saying a word when given the chance to speak by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge.
Petric's eyes were red from crying when his father, Mark Petric, asked the judge to be lenient, and said that his son regrets killing his mother and reminds his father often that he is glad his father survived.
As for his mother, Daniel Petric's frequent comment is "Dad, I miss mom, I miss mom," the father said.
"He still does not understand why he did something so terrible," Mark Petric told the judge.
The prosecution disputed the contention that Petric had shown remorse for the crimes and asked for the maximum sentence.
Besides his father, Petric's sister, grandfather and other family members attended the hearing in Elyria, about 20 miles southwest of Cleveland. Some wiped away tears.
Petric was convicted of shooting his parents in October 2007 after they took the game "Halo 3" away from him. The judge, who heard the case without a jury, said at the time of the verdict that the teen was so obsessed over a video game that he may have believed that, like the characters in the game, death wasn't real.
The defense claimed that his age and addiction to the game made him less responsible.
In the video game "Halo 3," players shoot alien monsters that have taken over the Earth.
Mark Petric, speaking for the family, said that a sentence short of life without parole would give his son a second chance.
"He has severe regret and remorse and guilt," said Mark Petric, who has visited his son weekly in jail and speaks with him by phone several times a week.
"I see the pain and guilt in his eyes," he said as his son, his head bowed, cried quietly.
Mark Petric, who has forgiven his son, said that he had followed his son's request that his father's congregation be told about his sorrow over the crimes. "He is sorry for causing everyone so much terrible pain," said the father, a minister at New Life Assembly of God, in Wellington.
The defense attorney, James M. Kersey, said that Daniel Petric's obsession with video games was so rampant that anyone who got in his way was at risk. He appealed for leniency.
Anthony Cillo, an assistant Lorain County attorney, said that Daniel Petric already had received a break because he was under 18 at the time of the crimes and ineligible for the death penalty.
At the trial, Mark Petric testified that his son came into the room and asked his parents: "Would you guys close your eyes? I have a surprise for you."
The father testified that he expected a pleasant surprise. Then his head went numb from a gunshot.
His wife, Susan, 43, died of a gunshot wound to the head.