Columbine gun suspect is sentenced

Saturday, June 24th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

GOLDEN, Colo. – The man who helped the Columbine gunmen buy one of the weapons they used to kill 12 students and a teacher was sentenced Friday to 41/2 years in prison.

Philip Joseph Duran, 23, pleaded guilty in May to providing a handgun to a juvenile and illegally possessing a sawed-off shotgun during target practice with Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.

"You are going to be serving a sentence to show the world the harm that can be caused," District Court Judge Thomas Woodford told Mr. Duran.

Mr. Duran, who had worked in a pizza shop with Mr. Klebold and Mr. Harris, introduced them to gun seller Mark Manes at a gun show three months before the rampage April 20, 1999.

Mr. Manes sold Mr. Klebold and Mr. Harris a TEC-DC9 semiautomatic handgun. They used it and other weapons to kill 13 people and wound 23 others at Columbine in Littleton, Colo., before taking their lives.

Mr. Manes was sentenced to a six-year prison term in November for providing the handgun to minors.

In a videotape found after the massacre, the killers thanked Mr. Duran and Mr. Manes for helping them get weapons.

Mr. Duran could have received up to nine years in prison. District Attorney Dave Thomas said he was pleased with the sentence because most people facing the same charges get probation. He said Mr. Duran could be eligible for release in two years.

Mr. Duran's lawyer, Matt DePetro, said his client knew Mr. Klebold and Mr. Harris only through work, and the gunmen's friends were in a better position than Mr. Duran to know what they were planning.

Mr. Duran's case was the last active criminal prosecution in the Columbine shootings.