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Student Guilty of Plotting Massacre

Court: Man faces up to 100 years in prison for possessing and planning to use an arsenal of guns and homemade bombs at Cupertino campus.

April 27, 2002|From Associated Press

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A man who assembled an arsenal of guns and homemade bombs while plotting a killing spree of fellow students at De Anza College was convicted Friday on 108 counts of possessing and planning to use those weapons.

Al Joseph DeGuzman, 20, whose diary indicated that he intended to copy the massacre carried out by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., could face up to 100 years in prison.

San Jose Superior Court Judge Robert Ahern announced his verdict Friday morning. The trial was held without a jury because DeGuzman's attorneys worried that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would influence jurors.

Prosecutors said during the trial that DeGuzman was hours away from attacking students at the Cupertino college in January 2001 when a photo lab clerk alerted police after developing snapshots of DeGuzman's arsenal of homemade weapons.

"I think it was the correct decision by the court, but it's not a great surprise," said prosecutor Thomas Farris. "We'll never know what was averted, but we know the potential was very high he was going to hurt someone."

DeGuzman was convicted on 54 counts each of possessing a destructive device and possessing a destructive device with intent to harm. Eight other counts were dismissed.

Ahern dismissed six counts of possessing a destructive device because the charges involved Molotov cocktails that did not have wicks, meaning they did not qualify as destructive devices. One count each of possessing a sawed-off shotgun and possessing a sawed-off rifle were dismissed because of clerical errors.

DeGuzman showed little emotion, glancing briefly at family members and friends as the verdicts were read. Sentencing was set for June 25.

Defense attorney Craig Wormley said DeGuzman was disappointed and immediately asked how long he'd have to spend in prison.

"Our intention all along was [to show] that he never intended to kill anyone. We still believe that," Wormley said. "He's extremely remorseful that he's putting his family through this."

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