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ANCHORAGE - Jason Prit-chard, the man charged with four counts of attempted murder for allegedly stabbing children at an elementary school in May, has agreed to plead no contest, prosecutors say.
Pritchard appeared Thursday afternoon in Anchorage Superior Court as lawyers arranged for the plea to be formally offered on Oct. 8.
Defense attorney Doug Moody said sentencing is not part of the deal. Superior Court Judge Dan Hensley could sentence Pritchard to anywhere from five to 99 years.
Pritchard, who has a lengthy history of mental illness and was diagnosed a schizophrenic, was charged with four counts of attempted murder and four counts of first-degree assault. It had been expected that he would plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
Under the agreement, Pritchard would plead no contest to two counts of attempted murder.
Pritchard's attack on the children of Mountain View Elementary School traumatized the community and led to a review of school security citywide.
He showed up before classes began, while some children were lining up for breakfast and others were on the playground. Police said he was armed with a filet knife and attacked children apparently randomly until teachers and other people cornered him in a classroom. Police brought him down with nonlethal beanbag-type shots.
Witnesses said he was ranting about God and everybody going to heaven. According to Pritchard's previous court and psychiatric records, he had religious delusions and was fixated on the idea that children could get to heaven only if they died while they were young and sexually innocent.