Image: Eric Hainstock
Leah L. Jones  /  AP
Eric Hainstock, in court Tuesday in Baraboo, Wis., was teased often in school and said his principal did nothing to stop the taunts.
updated 8/3/2007 5:53:46 PM ET 2007-08-03T21:53:46

A 16-year-old was sentenced Friday to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the shooting death of his high school principal.

Eric Hainstock was convicted a day earlier of the first-degree intentional homicide of Weston Schools Principal John Klang last September.

Attorneys for Hainstock admitted at the outset of his trial that he shot Klang. But they said Hainstock was teased by schoolmates and never intended to shoot anyone. He just wanted Klang to listen to him, they argued.

Sauk County Circuit Judge Patrick Taggart said Hainstock would be eligible for parole in 30 years. The judge urged the state’s Department of Corrections to place Hainstock in a juvenile center.

“I do believe you can be rehabilitated,” Taggart told the boy, who showed no emotion as the sentence was read.

Klang’s widow, Sue Klang, told the judge during the sentencing hearing that her life is now consumed with “horror, agony, emptiness, despair.”

“John was the love of my life. My best friend,” she said.

'He's hurting deep inside'
Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence. Prosecutor Pat Barrett argued that Hainstock knew what he was doing when he went to school with guns and ammunition Sept. 29, the morning homecoming was to begin at the school 65 miles northwest of Madison.

Hainstock’s attorney, Rhoda Ricciardi, said her client was emotional and immature and never meant to kill Klang. She found him watching the children’s cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants” before his sentencing Friday morning.

“There is very little thought to anything he does,” Ricciardi said.

Hainstock’s family did not testify at his sentencing. His father, Shawn Hainstock, wept during testimony. He said after the sentencing that his son is not without remorse, as prosecutors had depicted him.

“He’s hurting deep inside. He tells me, ’Dad, I don’t know how to cry,”’ Hainstock said, struggling through tears. “He’s not heartless. He’s a loving boy.”

Mandatory sentence
Life in prison is mandatory in first-degree murder convictions, but judges are allowed to grant parole eligibility dates. Hainstock had waived a pre-sentence investigation.

Hainstock went to school the day of the shooting armed with his father’s shotgun and .22 revolver. He brought dozens of extra rounds of ammunition.

A janitor wrestled the shotgun from Hainstock, then a 15-year-old freshman. But the boy evaded teachers, drew the revolver and went down the hall.

He ran into Klang, who tackled him. Hainstock shot Klang three times in the scuffle. Klang managed to disarm Hainstock before another teacher and two students arrived to hold him down.

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