Convicted killers William Harbour and Larry Patterson walked into a courtroom packed with family and friends of the two girls they brutalized and murdered 43 years ago.
Doris Derryberry and Valerie Lane were just 13 and 12 at the time they were killed.
It was the day of sentencing for Patterson, who had pleaded guilty, and Harbour, who pleaded no contest, to two counts of second-degree murder — a plea bargain they had accepted earlier.
“My aunt wasn’t given a plea bargain. Valerie wasn’t given a plea bargain. This man got a plea bargain. He should never even see a parole board,” said Stan Vantassel, Doris’ nephew, who was just 3 when the murders occurred.
But soon after the judge sentenced each man to five years to life in prison — the maximum sentence allowed for second degree murders back in 1973, when the killings occurred — Patterson attempted to change his plea.
“I’m shocked,” said Doris’ sister, Cheryl Derryberry.
The move angered the family of the victims.
“I’d like to climb across and choke the life out of them. That’s what I’d like to do,” Cheryl Derryberry said.
But the judge refused to let Patterson change his plea. He’ll have to file an appeal instead.
“He knows he done it. He knows he was there. He knows he’s guilty. Why put everybody else through this again?” Cheryl Derryberry said.
“Definitely was a headspinner. For somebody to think they can sit with a plea bargain and then withdraw their plea when they’re at sentencing, was once again, him trying to slap our community and our families in the face,” Vantassel added.
Patterson’s attempt came despite him just hearing a long line of family members read how the murders had impacted their lives.
“The loss has been painfully ongoing. I can only hope that some of it will stop today,” a family member said to the judge, just before he handed down the sentences.
“We can only imagine the fear and pain those girls had to endure. Now 43 years later, justice is somewhat prevailing, as two predators have been arrested,” another relative said.
We also heard the words of Valerie Lane’s mother, read by a family member.
“I hoped and prayed that I’d see justice served before I died. It has been so hard. I didn’t realize it would all seem like it happened yesterday,” she said.