Judge issues six-year sentence for D20 shooting plot

(COLORADO SPRINGS) — At a hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 30, a 19-year-old from Elbert County was sentenced to six years in the Department of Corrections (DOC) in connection to a planned school shooting in 2023.

On March 31, 2023, deputies with the Elbert County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) responded to a home in unincorporated Elbert County after a family member contacted law enforcement stating that 19-year-old William Whitworth, who identifies as Lily, had threatened to shoot up a school and was punching holes in a wall.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Suspect pleads guilty in District 20 school shooting plot

While on scene at the Elbert County home, deputies discovered a dry erase board that appeared to have a labeled floor plan of a school, as well as a notebook with additional drawings and floor plans. Whitworth also admitted to planning an attack, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. It was later revealed that Whitworth had targeted three schools in Academy District 20 in Colorado Springs.

At the hearing on Tuesday, Whitworth’s defense asked for probation but was ultimately denied by the judge. The judge recommended Whitworth spend time with Youth Offender Services, but that decision would be up to the warden.

The defense argued for a sentence that focused on rehabilitation through a sober living home, and the prosecution argued for punishment of Whitworth’s actions, and for keeping her in a secure facility to ensure the safety of the community and the victims who would have been targeted by the planned attack.

The judge addressed Whitworth directly, and sternly reinforced that no one should feel scared to go to school, and thankfully, no one was hurt before Whitworth was arrested.

“Had you carried this out… you would be going to the Department of Corrections for the rest of your life,” the judge addressed Whitworth. “I would have one option, and Ms. Whitworth I would not hesitate to impose that one option. And I would not look back.”

Ultimately, the judge argued that probation and rehabilitative options avoiding jail time would not be in the best interest of the community or Whitworth herself, as she has no support or family in Colorado.

“Can we send someone who’s under the age of 21, or even 25, out into the world, put them on probation, tell them to find some treatment and hope everything is okay, ‘check in with your probation officer?’ No,” said the judge.

The judge sentenced Whitworth to six years in the DOC and three years mandatory parole. She received credit for 306 days served.

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