MILFORD, Conn. -- A Connecticut teenager was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison for fatally stabbing a classmate in a high school stairwell on the morning of their junior prom two years ago.
Christopher Plaskon, 19, had pleaded no contest in March to murder charges in the death of 16-year-old Maren Sanchez. Prosecutors said Plaskon stabbed Sanchez because she turned down his prom invitation, but Plaskon's lawyers disputed that account.
A no contest plea means the accused does not admit guilt but agrees not to dispute the charges.
The attack occurred about 7 a.m. on April 25, 2014, at Jonathan Law High School in Milford. A witness saw Plaskon on top of Sanchez and tried unsuccessfully to pull him off, according to the probable cause statement. Another witness said they saw him discard a bloody knife in a school corridor.
Sanchez, described by her family as "a bright light full of hopes and dreams," was cut in her neck, chest and face. Plaskon was taken into custody the same day. Students were sent home, and the prom was postponed.
Plaskon's attorneys initially indicated they were exploring an insanity defense, and he pleaded not guilty in December of 2015. But they later chose to accept a plea deal, according to WTNH.
Sanchez's mother, Donna Cimarelli-Sanchez, filed a lawsuit against the Milford Board of Education in March, claiming the school and the board did not do enough to protect students like her daughter.
The lawsuit states that in November 2013, Maren Sanchez became aware that Plaskon was emotionally disturbed and was "threatening to commit suicide or acts of serious self-harm by cutting himself with a knife."
She was concerned that Plaskon might engage in "potentially violent conduct dangerous to himself or others," and expressed concerns to her guidance counselor.
"There is nothing that we can give them (Sanchez's parents) that would give them really what they want, which is to put the clock back two years and give them their daughter back," State's Attorney Kevin Lawlor said after the sentencing.
Plaskon's lawyers told WFSB that he will be up for parole in about 15 years. To Sanchez's family, that is too soon.
"The sentence was much too lenient," Maren's father, Jose Sanchez, said. "The message that it sends is that if you commit a crime as heinous as murder in the state of Connecticut, you're going to do very little time and you're going to walk out with a college degree, and you have your life back at one point."
Sanchez believes that violence in schools has become a huge problem across the state and the country.
"We have an epidemic of issues at schools and the messages that we are sending are lenient sentences," he said. "I'm sorry, I honestly don't think that is doing justice."