ALFRED — Biddeford landlord James Pak was sentenced today to two life sentences in prison for murdering two teenagers in 2012. He was also sentenced to serve a consecutive 30-year prison term for the attempted murder of the mother of one of the slain teenagers.

On Feb. 3, Pak, who is in his late 70s, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder for shooting and killing 19-year-old Derrick Thompson and his 18-year-old girlfriend Alivia Welch on Dec. 29, 2012, following an argument over the rental agreement, as well as parking and snow removal, at the building where he rented an apartment to Thompson and Thompson’s mother, Susan Johnson.

Pak also pleaded guilty to aggravated attempted murder for shooting Johnson, who was shot in the chest but survived after lying on the floor of the apartment and pretending to be dead.

Justice John O’Neil Jr. imposed the sentence after a two-hour hearing at York County Superior Court in Alfred, during which seven family members of Thompson and Welch shared emotional testimony about how the teens’ deaths have affected their lives. Pak, who was dressed in an orange prison suit, spoke only once during the hearing, telling his attorney he did not wish to make a statement.

Before O’Neil’s decision, the state requested a lesser sentence of 50 years in prison for the murders, citing mitigating factors such as Pak’s age. “Because of his age, 50 years is a life sentence,” Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who prosecuted the case, told the judge.

But in explaining the sentence, O’Neil said the victims’ young age and the immense impact their deaths had on the community, among other details of the case, influenced him to impose the most severe sentence.

“I’m very happy with the sentence,” Johnson said after the hearing.

Pak had originally pleaded not guilty to the charges by reason of insanity. His ability to stand trial was debated at hearings in February and May 2015, before the court ruled in November that while Pak does have cognitive limitations and struggles with the English language, he was mentally competent to stand trial.

Look for more on this story in Friday’s Journal Tribune and on journaltribune.com.

— Staff Writer Angelo J. Verzoni can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


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