A life-without-parole sentence was preordained when a white supremacist was sentenced for killing 10 Black people last year at a Buffalo supermarket. But Payton Gendron's victims and their survivors got their say in court in an emotional hearing that was disrupted briefly when the defendant was charged by a man in the audience, who was quickly restrained, the Associated Press reports. Gendron, whose hatred was fueled by racist conspiracy theories he encountered online and who had pleaded guilty in November, cried during some of the testimony and apologized to victims in a brief statement. The judge imposed separate sentences of life without parole, one for each victim, to run concurrently. She also denied giving Gendron youthful offender status, which might have given him a chance to reenter society. “There was nothing hasty or thoughtless about your conduct. There are no mitigating factors to be considered,” Judge Susan Eagan said.
Gendron also faces separate federal charges that could carry a death sentence if the U.S. Justice Department chooses to seek it. His defense attorney said in December that Gendron is prepared to plead guilty in federal court as well to avoid execution. At the state court hearing, Barbara Massey Mapps excoriated him for killing her 72-year-old sister, Katherine Massey. As Mapps shouted and pointed at Gendron, a person in the audience took a few steps toward him before getting held back. “You don’t know what we’re going through,” a man shouted as he was led away by court officers. For several minutes thereafter, family members hugged and calmed each other. After the hearing resumed, more victims spoke. “You’ve been brainwashed,” Wayne Jones Sr., the only child of victim Celestine Chaney, said as sobs rose from the audience. “You don’t even know Black people that much to hate them. You learned this on the internet, and it was a big mistake.”