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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A man who pleaded guilty to stabbing 20 students and a security guard while he was a student at Franklin Regional High School was sentenced Monday afternoon.

Twenty-year-old Alex Hribal was sentenced to 23 to 60 years in prison. He also must pay $269,000 in restitution to the victims.

Hribal attacked his fellow students back in April of 2014 when he was just 16 years old.

“It’s been 45 months of a very difficult case,” Patrick Thomassey, Hribal’s defense attorney, said.

Today, Hribal’s mother took the stand to say bullying is the real issue in the case.

She also went on to say that many people suffering from mental illness suffer in silence. She turned to the judge and said, “I’m the one that needs sentenced, not him… If I had known about mental illness, I’d have sought help right away. I’m sorry, Alex. I’m sorry.”

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck disagreed with Hribal’s parents’ position that bullying was an influencing factor in the attack.

“Every mental health professional who treated Alex Hribal asked him about bullying,” Peck said. “None of them ever expressed an opinion that bullying had an effect or was a cause of his behavior.”

During victim impact statements, victims of the attack and relatives of victims addressed the court before sentencing.

One woman who witnessed the attack said she feels “broken,” “confused,” and “forever changed.” She said she will “never forget seeing classmates falling … never forget what were gleaming floors and walls soaked with blood,” but she said she forgave Hribal.

The brother of one of the stabbing victims was less forgiving, saying he “believed what [Hribal] did was pure evil.” He called Hribal “a terrorist who killed for the sake of killing” and “a despicable human being.”

Hribal himself took the stand to read a prepared statement and said he would rather go to prison and get mental health help than be out in the civilian world and potentially be a threat to others.

“I want some good to come out of this. I finally realize I took the path of hate and all it got me was a ruined life,” he said. “I’d rather get mental health treatment in prison than be free without treatment. I feel horrible about everything.”

He pleaded guilty to 21 counts of attempted homicide and aggravated assault back in October.

In October, Thomassey said he was disappointed Hribal was not able to plead “guilty but mentally ill.”

“He’s got a serious mental illness. All my doctors said that,” Thomassey said.

Thomassey says he plans on appealing the entire case to state superior court, saying Hribal should never have been charged as an adult. Instead, he should have been adjudicated in a juvenile court.

Hribal will be sent to state prison.

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