ALFRED, Maine (AP) — A landlord pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing two tenants after fighting with them over snow shoveling, parking and late rent.
James Pak, 77, of Biddeford, had originally planned to use an insanity defense, but he instead pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and one count of aggravated attempted murder in the Dec. 29, 2012, shooting. Asked if he understood what he was doing, Pak told the judge quietly, “I am guilty.”
Shortly before the shooting, police in Biddeford visited the apartment rented by 19-year-old Derrick Thompson and his mother, Susan Johnson. Thompson had complained that Pak had been yelling at him and threatening him. The officers deemed the argument a civil matter and left, according to an affidavit.
Court documents indicate Pak waited for police to leave before going to the tenants’ apartment and declaring, “I’m going to shoot you all” before killing Thompson and his girlfriend, 18-year-old Alivia Welch.
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Johnson was shot in the back and arm but survived by playing dead.
She said Wednesday that she wished Pak had pleaded guilty three years ago.
Defense lawyer Joel Vincent said that Pak made no plea bargain and that he entered the guilty plea to spare himself, his wife and the victims’ families the ordeal of a trial.
He’ll face a minimum of 25 years in prison when he’s sentenced Feb. 11, but that won’t be the end of court proceedings in the case.
Both Pak and the Biddeford Police Department are being sued by the victims’ families.