The teen accused of shooting a classmate six times in their high school cafeteria in January 2018 pleaded guilty Monday to attempted capital murder.
It has been a long year and half for Mahkayla Jones and her family.
"There are days when I can't even get out of bed because that's all that plays in my head," said Jones.
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Chad Padilla almost pleaded guilty before Monday morning, but backed out at the last minute, causing additional stress to Jones and her family. The guilty plea was a step forward to begin the process of healing.
Padilla, now 18-years-old, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for attempted capital murder, and will not be eligible for parole until after serving 20 years.
Prosecutors were preparing for trial to begin in August before Padilla accepted the plea deal. The biggest concern for the Jones family, and her class mates at Italy High School, was reliving the day of the shooting during a lengthy trial.
An investigator testified last year that Jones hugged Padilla, asked him to sit and told him he appeared angry.
She said that's when he drew back and told her, "Sorry it had to end this way," and shot her repeatedly six times in the Italy High School cafeteria, Jones said.
During the hearing Monday, Jones had a strong message of resiliency, hope, and amazingly, a message of forgiveness for the classmate that nearly took her life.
"I feel very relieved and I just keep thinking, 'Well, maybe this is not just good for me, it's good for everybody else because one of my really good friends, she has seizure-like episodes, and it's very harmful as well as for me,'" said Jones. "So, it's not only for me, it's for everybody else at that school, and I just feel really happy that everybody can just be at peace."
Jones also said on the stand during the hearing that today is the end of a "crazy, psychotic journey" for her and her family. They're hoping they can get back to living their lives.
"If you're going to sit in a hole you're not going to go anywhere. And I want to go places and I want to be somebody who makes a difference."