HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. – The teen girl who pleaded guilty in December to conspiring to commit first-degree murder for plotting a 2015 attack to shoot students and teachers at Mountain Vista High School was sentenced Wednesday.
Brooke Higgins, 17, had also pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit murder in December.
She was on Wednesday sentenced to three years in the Division of Youth Corrections for the solicitation charge, but will get credit for 409 days served since her initial arrest. That juvenile sentence was stipulated under her plea agreement.
Higgins will also have to serve four years of supervised probation and mental health treatment after she is released from juvenile detention as part of a deferred sentence for the conspiracy charge. Should she successfully complete the probation, her adult conviction can be sealed, according to the district attorney's office.
“This agreement provided us the greatest opportunity to get the most public safety and justice for the community. What this defendant did was not just idle chatter,” said District Attorney George Brauchler in a news release. “At the same time, the agreement offers the best chance for rehabilitation for this defendant, who has accepted responsibility and has earned that chance.”
Higgins admitted in December she had plotted the attack with fellow student Sienna Johnson, whose case is still in court.
Court documents showed she had told friends she wanted to commit a mass shooting and that she idolized Columbine High School shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. She had also texted multiple people in an attempt to get a gun.
But after Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, Higgins’ attorney, Iris Eytan, blamed 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler for depression he says Higgins has suffered since she was charged.
Brauchler initially filed adult charges against Higgins and ordered her be held on a $1 million bond. Eytan added that depression from an instance in which Higgins was allegedly raped contributed to her mental state before she planned the shooting.
“Her emotional state was not about to kill anyone else, but to kill herself,” he said.
Eytan also blamed Colorado media for the hoopla that surrounded the case.
Higgins herself apologized to “the teachers, the students and the parents” at Mountain Vista High School, saying she was “sorry for the things that [she] joked about and talked about.”
“I never meant for things to get so out of hand and I never meant to hurt anyone,” she said.
Johnson’s case is still pending in courts after a Jan. 6 hearing was rescheduled. She is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder after deliberation.