OREM — Lying on his back, staring at the locker room ceiling, a stab wound to his neck, a teenage boy believed he was about to die.
The boy, identified in court as A.D., told a juvenile court judge Tuesday he wasn't afraid as he faced death but instead felt calm and maybe relieved to escape the frightening scene around him.
"I looked up at the ceiling and thought, 'This is the end,'" A.D. explained. "I wasn't scared. It was kind of peaceful to know I would be leaving that situation."
A.D. was one of five teenage boys at Mountain View High School stabbed at random by a classmate, Luke Dollahite, before the then-15-year-old attempted to take his own life last year.
All five boys and their attacker survived, though one boy said in court the stab wound to his neck was mere millimeters away from being fatal.
Two of the victims, including A.D., their parents, and the parents of a third boy detailed the violent Nov. 15 attack in court Tuesday. But amid their frank descriptions of the attack and the struggles they have since endured, many who spoke also shared hopes that Dollahite can receive treatment for the mental illness that fueled his rampage.
"He wasn't his best self. He was having a really hard time, and he was desperate," A.D. told the judge, sharing his hope that Dollahite will choose to "gain back the trust of the community" and lift himself up.
The boy also expressed his sympathy for Dollahite's family.
"If it has been hard for me, I can't imagine what it has been like for them," A.D. said.
Dollahite, now 16, admitted to four counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, and was committed to a secure juvenile facility.
The final count of attempted aggravated murder will be transferred to 4th District Court, where Dollahite has agreed to plead guilty and will be sentenced to prison. The prison sentence will go into effect once the youth parole authority chooses to release him, which could be as late as his 21st birthday.
No date has been set for the district court hearing.
As part of the deal with prosecutors, the remaining class A misdemeanor charges in Dollahite's case were dismissed, including failing to stop at the command of a law enforcer and possession of a dangerous weapon with intent to assault.
Throughout the hearing, Dollahite showed no emotion, but appeared calm and attentive as he sat shackled beside his attorney. He did not make a statement Tuesday, but rose simply to tell the judge, "Thank you, your honor."
As he described being excited for weight-training class on the day of the attack, A.D. chuckled while he explained he had been looking forward to getting "beefed up for the school year." Now, he is restricted from physical activity, exercise and sports he used to enjoy.
A.D.'s right arm remains bound in a sling, immobilized from nerve damage he suffered in the attack. While he says he is focusing on remaining positive, he and his family know he will never recover from much of the paralysis.
A.D. never received the driver's license he was on the verge of earning that day, he said. He missed months of school and couldn't return to the job he'd gotten to save money for college and a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now, unable to work and looking at the medical bills his family is amassing, A.D. confessed he is worried he won't be able to achieve either of his goals without incurring a large debt.
The first few months of his recovery were focused on his physical wounds, he said, as he went through three surgeries, pain, fatigue, and the struggle of going on and off strong opioid medication. Without the drugs, A.D. said the constant pain left him distracted and unable to sleep. While taking them, he said, he feared addiction.
It wasn't until A.D. began to leave the cloud from the pain medication behind that he was confronted with the emotion of what he had experienced, finding himself falling into sudden moments of anger and experiencing a panic attack when he stumbled upon one of his own knives in a closet.
Another of the teenage victims, identified as B.D., said he still struggles with confusion about the attack that was "meant to kill me."
"It makes me angry and confuses me why someone would do this to innocent people," B.D. said. "Why would someone want to do this at all?"
B.D. was stabbed once in the neck as Dollahite grabbed his hair and pulled his head to the side. The blade sliced an artery, but missed a vital nerve by just two millimeters. If it had been severed, B.D. says he was told, his body would have been left unable to breathe and he would have died.
If this hadn't been his senior year, B.D. said he doesn't think he could have brought himself to return to Mountain View.
"I don't feel safe at my high school anymore," he said.
Weeping as she spoke, B.D.'s mother said her heart has ached as she watched her kindhearted and optimistic son become reserved, isolated and quick to anger.
"I feel there is a wall that has been built up around him," she said.
The mother and father of a third boy stabbed at the high school, C.P., also took turns speaking Tuesday, explaining that their son chose not to attend the hearing in order to try and move on from what happened.
Reading a note from his son, the father told Dollahite the boy had written, "I forgive you, but I don't trust you."
The man urged Dollahite to try to earn that trust as he receives treatment and serves his time.
"I hope this will not define who you are," the man told Dollahite, watching as the boy nodded subtly.
C.P.'s mother echoed the message.
"We do forgive you, and we have never blamed your parents and your family," she told Dollahite through tears.
Dollahite had dressed in red, expecting "a lot of blood," when he went to the boys locker room and began attacking classmates at random, intent on killing as many people as possible before taking his own life, charging documents state. As teachers backed him into a corner, Dollahite stabbed himself in the neck. He later recovered.
Prior to the incident, school district officials said Dollahite was a straight-A student and had no prior disciplinary issues. The boy had been home-schooled and enrolled at Mountain View in August, according to the district.
Standing to read a brief statement, Dollahite's parents expressed their deep sorrow for their son's actions, and their gratitude that no lives were lost.
Reading a statement, Dollahite's father said the family had been "surprised" by Dollahite's mental illness.
"He had never hurt anyone before, we were shocked confused and heartbroken, and we continue to search for answers," the man read.
With "professional, parental and divine help," the parents said they believe their son will reach a point where he will never harm anyone again.
Contributing: Annie Knox