A New Mexico judge rejected pleas for leniency and handed down the maximum sentence for a then-12-year-old boy who opened fire in a Roswell, N.M., middle school gym this year, injuring two students, the Associated Press reports. Judge Freddie Romero ordered the boy, now 13, held in custody until he is 21. His decision came after a daylong hearing in which the shooter apologized, the defense argued he was the victim of chronic bullying, and the two students wounded in the shooting detailed their permanent injuries. “
“It's a miracle that I'm alive right now,” said Nathaniel Tavarez, 12. who was shot in the face Jan. 14 at Berrendo Middle School. “My vision is still seriously impaired, but there is hope. I have conquered many things the doctors said I never would.” Special prosecutor Matt Chandler read a statement from the other victim, 13-year-old Kendal Sanders. Sanders wrote that she has more than 150 lead pellets in her body and might never be able to have children. The pellets cause lead poisoning and make her ill and tired. In May, the boy, unidentified by AP, pleaded no contest to three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and one count of carrying a firearm on school premises. His lawyers had asked that he be placed in treatment for two years and then be released if doctors determined he was no longer a danger. A defense memo said the boy was chronically bullied, is socially and emotionally immature, and regrets what he did.