Nearly seven years to the day of the deadly attack, the final defendant in a mass murder case pleaded guilty Monday in Forsyth County Superior Court.
Marcin Sosniak, 28, received four consecutive life sentences without parole and 100 years for his role in what Superior Court Judge David Dickinson called “evil, senseless and tragic” acts.
The March 19, 2006, rampage — which has become known as the farmhouse massacre — claimed the lives of four people, including three teenagers. Three others suffered severe injuries.
Sosniak pleaded guilty to four counts of felony murder for his actions that led Jason Samuel McGhee to kill the four in the home on Ronald Reagan Boulevard in south Forsyth.
He received 20 years each for five additional charges: three counts of aggravated battery and one count each of aggravated assault and burglary.
In accepting the plea and negotiated sentence, Dickinson noted that it was all over “a botched drug deal … [that] caused so much hardship and pain of lost loved ones forever.”
According to Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn, Sosniak handed a gun and clip to McGhee as he headed upstairs at the house and fatally shot Lynn Bartlett, 55, Mariel Hannah, 18, Kyle Jones, 17, and Billy Osment, 15.
Sosniak’s sentence is identical to that of gunman McGhee, who pleaded guilty in December 2011 to four counts of malice murder, three counts of aggravated battery and one count each of aggravated assault and burglary.
The third defendant, Frank Ortegon, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and 20 years on probation after pleading guilty in September to one count each of aggravated assault, aggravated battery and burglary. Ortegon had remained downstairs that night and did not take part in the killings.
Sosniak’s plea Monday followed years of court proceedings, including an appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.
The defendant opted not to address the court during the plea hearing, which took place just hours before his trial was scheduled to start. He wore a gray business suit and kept a blank expression.
During the proceedings, Penn explained that Sosniak was a marijuana dealer, who had been robbed by Matt Brown in summer 2005.
In discussions with McGhee, the two decided to get back at Brown. The plot culminated in March 2006, though murder supposedly wasn’t in the plans, Penn said.
“He certainly intended to scare or rob the individuals in the house,” she said.
Prior to sentencing Monday, family members of those who died and witnesses to the attack addressed the court.
Mariel Hannah’s father, David, looked at Sosniak and asked him if he had empathy and regret for the pain he caused family members, or only for himself.
“If it’s the latter, that’s the definition of a psychopath,” Hannah said.
His other daughter, Avarie, who was 14 at the time her sister was killed, said Mariel’s life was looking up when it was taken.
“You’re just as responsible and just as evil,” she said. “Evil does not deserve forgiveness.”
Brown, who was shot 10 times in the attack, turned first to the family and friends present in the courtroom and apologized for his actions before looking at Sosniak, whom he said could not ever ask for mercy.
“I ain’t got nothing for you,” said Brown, who was in a wheelchair. “You’re probably safer in prison.”
Brian Bartlett said he and his son, who suffered stab wounds and a spinal cord injury, will be all right as they move forward.
His son received “a life sentence without parole” for the physical and mental pain he endures, Bartlett said, but his wife got “her death sentence.”
Lynn Bartlett loved her son and his friends, many of whom turned to her for advice when they couldn’t go to their own parents, he said.
“She didn’t deserve to be so brutally gunned down,” he said. “[Sosniak] gave up the gun, and I believe he knew what was about to happen.
“The lives of my family and others were ripped apart by a stupid and senseless act instigated by Marcin Sosniak … Although he didn’t personally take the lives of any of the victims, he is just as responsible.”
Brian Bartlett also scolded the defense team for what he called “every stunt possible to delay the court proceedings.”
Though the motions and appeals were supposed to protect Sosniak’s rights, Bartlett said no one protected his wife’s rights when she was killed.
In November, the state Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s decision to deny a request to dismiss the case based on an alleged violation of right to a speedy trial.
The year before, Sosniak’s attorneys contended that the state had not pay them for his defense, which prevented the case from going forward.
Jury selection for the trial had been scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Monday.