CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A judge sentenced two Cherokee County teens Tuesday who pleaded guilty to plotting an attack on students and teachers at Etowah High School to 40 years with 20 years to serve in prison.
Deputies arrested Alfred Dupree, now 19, and Victoria McCurley, 18, in October of 2017. A family member alerted officials of their elaborate plan that consisted of a kill list, journals, and a map.
"In this situation, a young person called the tip line, and because of that, possible tragedy that would affect generations to come was averted," prosecuting attorney Rachelle Carnesale said.
McCurley's attorney spoke briefly with the 19-year-old after the sentencing.
"She said, 'I guess they're going to lock me up and throw away the key for 20 years,'" McCurley told FOX 5 News. He is concerned about what several decades in jail will do to her already wavering mental state.
In an emotional sentencing hearing Monday afternoon, witnesses largely presented by the defense shed light on the mental health of Dupree and McCurley. In a particularly poignant moment, Dupree's aunt recalled asking him once about markings on his neck. Amy Dupree Adams said he told her it was from choking himself.
The aunt said she partially blames herself for Dupree's actions adding she should have embraced his Asperger's diagnosis earlier.
"We believed he would just kind of grow out of it, I kept waiting for this magical 18th birthday where he was going to be grown and mature," his aunt said.
Similarly, Detective Andy Farmer with the Cherokee County School Police shared concerns regarding McCurley's mental state. McCurley said on Friday she wrote her own name on the kill list.
"During the entire time we talked to her, she talked about suicide. She told me, well, she told all of us, 'I have a lot of demons,' even talked about cutting herself to let the demons out," said Det. Farmer.
The judge empathized with the difficult trauma both teens faced growing up but expressed concern over the safety of the community, ultimately meeting the prosecution's recommended 40-year sentence, 20 to serve.