Eduardo Marmolejo was just 16 years old when he fatally stabbed his high school principal in 2011. He was tried as an adult and yesterday accepted a plea deal that sentenced him to 35 years without the possibility of parole. Marmolejo stated that he was a different man than he was at the time of the murder.
"I apologize for my bad behavior," Marmolejo told the family of Suzette York, whom he stabbed multiple times. "I'm not the same man I used to be. I'm a better man."
Marmolejo was a student at the Memphis Junior Academy, a small private school affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. York was the principal at the time and was reportedly stabbed nine times and suffered a fractured skull. Marmolejo admitted to studying combat techniques and seeking York out because he was angry with her.
"There are no rational explanations," Marmolejo's attorney, Leslie Ballin, told the press. "Families have been devastated."
The teen was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and has been behind bars awaiting trial. He agreed to a plea deal arranged by prosecutors and his defense attorneys. Even though prosecutors would have preferred a trial, they took into account the wishes of York's husband, who wanted to avoid a trial.
"The evidence was overwhelming," Prosecutor Reggie Henderson told the Associated Press. "A confession, forensic evidence. It was a very, very strong case. In particular, the victim's husband, this was very difficult for him because of the way he actually came upon the scene. He was a part of it, and it's a horrific memory for him that he wishes not to relive if he could help it."
Even though Marmolejo could have been sentenced to 15 to 25 years if convicted during a trial, he chose to accept the longer plea deal. His mother, Marcela Rodriguez, is happy with her son's decision.
"We are with Jesus, and he has given us the strength to survive this," Rodriguez told reporters.