Family, friends remember Brian Betts as principal's killer is sentenced

Family and friends of slain D.C. middle school principal Brian Betts say they want the community and the killer to know what a good man Betts was.


They attended the sentencing hearing for the man who pleaded guilty to shooting Betts during a botched robbery, 19-year-old Alante Saunders.

The family and friends spent an hour giving victim impact statements in court. Afterwards, they stood together at a press conference to share their grief.

Jen Altomare is Betts younger sister.

"He was my rock, my protector, my coach, my biggest supporter. the godfather of my daughters," she said. "He was my big brother."

Saunders was sentenced to 40 years in prison Tuesday for shooting Betts in the April murder.

Betts was set up by Saunders, who had gone on a phone sex chat line looking for a victim. Betts invited Saunders over, left the door unlocked and waited upstairs.

Though Saunders pleaded guilty and is going to prison, the Betts family is clearly unhappy with the treatment they have received in the court system.

The family was joined by well-known California attorney Gloria Allred, who cryptically said victim's rights need to be improved.

"I have already spoken to a Maryland legislator to propose a change to expand victim rights," she said at the news conference following the hearing.

Allred did say that since Betts was a gay man and given the circumstances of the crime, she is exploring whether Saunders could now face federal hate crime charges.

"The law wants to be sure that these people are treated fairly and that everyone knows that they enjoy as many rights as everyone else and those who target them will suffer the the consequences that the law imposes," Allred said.

McCarthy rejected both of Allred's apparent assertions. He said the state and his office are friendly to victims and victims' families, and that if there was evidence that Betts' murder was a hate crime he would have prosecuted it as such.

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