The sentence was preordained after Allen Ivanov pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated first-degree murder. By doing so, he avoided a possible death sentence.

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EVERETT — Grief and rage filled a Snohomish County courtroom Thursday as the family and friends of the three young people shot dead by Allen Ivanov at a Mukilteo house party last summer confronted the 20-year-old before seeing him sent to prison for the rest of his life.

One after another, those shattered by the July 30 shootings — mothers, fathers, siblings, cousins and friends — tried to find words to describe their loss. Sometimes, all that came were tears.

Ivanov, 20, also spoke publicly for the first time since his arrest, saying he was sorry for what he’d done and had no explanation for his actions. Otherwise, his defense presented no evidence.

“How could I have done this? I could not say,” Ivanov said, reading from a folded notebook paper he pulled from his striped jail jersey.

At one point, he blamed “the ease of acquiring a gun,” referring to the assault-style rifle he had purchased about a week before the deadly shootings. He also claimed “Satan was in control” that night.

“I want to apologize wholeheartedly to all those whose lives I’ve taken,” he said, naming the three people he killed and a fourth who was wounded. “And all those whose lives have been darkened by my actions.”

He said he was “hopeless, suicidal and outraged with jealousy” when he targeted ex-girlfriend Anna Bui and former high-school classmates. Police say he was angry at Bui for spurning his efforts to reconcile and stalked her at the gathering of friends.

“Anna visits me in my dreams and talks to me all the time,” he said shortly before Superior Court Judge Janice Ellis sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of release, a sentence predetermined when Ivanov pleaded guilty to avoid the possibility of the death penalty.

“You deserve to be separated from society for the rest of your life, and you shall,” she said.

Earlier, some of the people whose lives were forever altered by the shootings addressed the packed Everett courtroom.

“Allen Ivanov has stolen so much from so many people,” said Autumn Snider, whose son Jake Long was killed. “Three innocent people are dead because Allen killed them.”

Snider carried a dark, ceramic urn to the stand.

“This is what I have left of my son — ashes in an urn that sits on my mantle,” she said as many in the courtroom sobbed. “Jake is gone, he is dead, and Allen killed him.”

Paul Kramer, whose son Will was critically wounded by Ivanov, said, “This is an absolute nightmare for all involved.”

Kramer spoke of his heartbreak for the families of the three teens, all of whom were former classmates of Ivanov at Mukilteo’s Kamiak High School.

Allen Ivanov speaks to court and apologizes to victims Thursday. (Mike Carter / The Seattle Times)

“The pain of their loss is beyond what any human being should endure,” Kramer said of the families of the slain victims. He called Ivanov a “completely defective human being,” noting the killer had planned the shootings in advance and bragged about them in rap lyrics written in jail.

Alex Levine, who was at the house party, addressed the court while accompanied by a therapy dog. In a halting voice, he said he was forever impacted by the deaths of three close friends and that he is haunted by the images of his dead friends’ bodies.

“At the age of 19, I had to attend the funerals of three of my friends in the span of three weeks,” he said.

David Bui, brother of Anna Bui, said, “The last time I saw her she was going out. The next time she was in a coffin.”

Jordan Ebner’s father, Brad Ebner, was visibly angry as he spoke while surrounded by court bailiffs. He said he had wanted Ivanov to be executed.

“I want him to die and I wanted to be there to watch it happen,” he said. “He took my first boy.”

As each person spoke, Ivanov looked down at the floor or his lap, showing little emotion.

Ivanov’s life sentence was preordained after he pleaded guilty last month to three counts of aggravated first-degree murder as well as two counts of attempted first-degree murder. By doing so, he avoided a possible death sentence had he been convicted at trial.

Police and prosecutors said Ivanov was angry that Bui, 19, had rebuffed his efforts to reconcile when he purchased a Ruger AR-15 semi-automatic rifle about a week before the shootings, according to court documents. Bui and Ivanov were students at the University of Washington Bothell.

On the night of July 29, Ivanov drove to a home in the Chennault Beach neighborhood of Mukilteo, where Bui was attending a gathering of friends, and parked outside, the documents say. He walked up to the home and saw his ex-girlfriend at the party.

Ivanov then returned to his car to study the owner’s manual for his newly purchased AR-15, police wrote in the documents.

Two hours passed before he walked back to the home just after midnight and opened fire while he was outside, the documents say.

Will Kramer, 18, told his father he was sitting around a backyard firepit with three friends when gunfire broke out. Two of his friends, Long and Ebner, both 19, were killed.

Ivanov walked into the house through a side door, found Bui and shot her.

Ivanov went upstairs and onto the balcony off the master bedroom and fired at two more people in the driveway. “He then went up on the roof and realized his magazine was empty,” so returned to his car and drove away, the documents say.

Ivanov was arrested by Washington State Patrol troopers about 90 minutes later on Interstate 5 near Chehalis, about 100 miles to the south.

After his arrest, “Ivanov stated that everything that went on tonight was about a girl,” court documents say.

Information in this article, originally published Jan. 12, 2017, was corrected Jan. 18, 2017. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Allen Ivanov’s family was not in court. His parents attended the sentencing hearing.