LARGO, Fla. (AP) — A former high school principal has been sentenced to six consecutive life sentences plus thirty years following a rampage through Pinellas County that left two dead.
Anthony J. Giancola didn't make a statement Monday after agreeing to a plea deal that let him escape the death penalty. He agreed to plead guilty to two murders, four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery.
The Tampa Bay Times reports Giancola was once a rising star in the Hillsborough County school system. But his downfall began in 2007, when he was caught buying $200 of cocaine from an undercover office at Van Buren Middle School middle school office.
Authorities say he continued to struggle with addiction.
And last June 2012, authorities say Giancola stabbed four people in a group home for the hearing impaired, killing 29-year-old Justin Lee Vandenburgh and 59-year-old Mary Ann Allis. He fled the scene and beat two people with a hammer at another location before slamming his car into a porch where four people were sitting. He also ran over a 13-year-old boy on a bicycle.
Police say they don't believe Giancola knew the stabbing victims.
On Monday, Giancola answered questions from Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thane Covert, who wanted to make sure he understood the proceedings and was satisfied with his legal representation from the public defender's office.
Vanderburgh's mother, Jennifer Waterman said in a way she's glad it's over. "Another part feels like he didn't get what he deserved," she added.
Others felt the sentence was appropriate.
"I feel like the death penalty would have been too easy," said Sherwin Petrocelli, whose mother was killed by Giancola. "I feel like him sitting in prison thinking about what he did ... it's the best outcome."
Petrocelli said his mother was a great woman and he feels her spirit with him. "I pray for the victims and everybody else," he said, "because it's not just my mom."