Child slasher sentenced to concurrent 99-year terms

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A man who slashed school children under the delusion that he could send them to God by killing them was sentenced to two concurrent 99-year prison terms Monday morning.

Jason Pritchard, 34, will be 100 years old before he is eligible for parole under the sentence handed down by Superior Court Judge Dan Hensley.

Pritchard on May 7 carried a filet knife to Mountain View Elementary School and stabbed or slashed three boys -- brothers Billy Moy, 8, and Eric Moy, 9, and Cody Brown, 8 -- as they stood in line with other children for the school's breakfast program. A fourth boy wriggled away.

Pritchard then went inside the school, pulled Stephan Hansell, 7, from underneath a desk and slashed his throat.

The children suffered cuts up to 2 inches deep, and in some cases, almost from ear to ear. Only Pritchard's haste or the grace of God allowed the four boys to survive, said assistant district attorney Adrienne Bachman.

''These wounds were killing wounds,'' she said.

Police subdued Pritchard using a firearm that shot ''beanbag'' ammunition. He was struck three times, and the third round knocked the knife from his hand.

Pritchard pleaded no contest in October to two counts of attempted murder.

Hensley said Pritchard was diagnosed with extreme schizophrenia. His multiple victims and their vulnerability put Pritchard in the worst class of offenders, Hensley said, and the judge concluded that Pritchard was likely to be an extreme danger to the public for the rest of his life.

Hensley ruled that the circumstances justified making Pritchard ineligible for discretionary parole after serving one-third of his sentence.

Hensley also concluded that Pritchard was guilty but mentally ill. That means he is not eligible for release on furlough or parole until he's cured. The Department of Corrections would be required to seek civil commitment if Pritchard was diagnosed as mentally ill after serving 66 years, or even his full sentence.

The sentence matched prosecutors' recommendations.

Hensley based his sentence in part on a tape recording of Pritchard's arrest made by Anchorage Police Department Officer Ryan McNamara, the first officer on the scene.

Trapped in a classroom, Pritchard refused to put down his knife as McNamara and three other officers trained their guns on him.

Instead, in a firm, clear voice, as if he were leading a congregation in prayer, Pritchard asked that God's will be done and thanked the Almighty for bringing him to that point.

An officer asked Pritchard if he wanted to talk to anyone.

''I'm talking to the person I want to talk to,'' Pritchard replied.

An officer reminded Pritchard of the Bible verse in which Jesus commanded his disciples to ''suffer the little children to come unto me.''

''I'm sending them to him,'' Pritchard shouted back to the officers. ''I'm doing exactly that. You're not doing that.''

Assistant public defender Douglas Moody asked for a sentence of 40 years with 10 suspended. He argued against restricting Pritchard's parole possibilities and said the parole board was in the best position to make a decision.

''It's a punishment for a condition that he had no control over,'' Moody said.

But Hensley said the evidence was overwhelming that Pritchard acted because of his illness and even in recent statements, ''did not appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct.''

Parents of Pritchard's victims said they would be satisfied with nothing less than a life sentence.

''I myself will never forgive you for what you have done to our son,'' said Mary Hansell, the mother of Stephan Hansell, now 8.

Reading teacher Jeff Harriman, who knocked the attacker away from Stephan Hansell, said Pritchard would never know the unseen damage he had caused to the children, their families, teachers and the dozens of children who witnessed the attacks.

''I hope you die in prison,'' Harriman said.

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