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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

White House Would-Be Killer Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison

WASHINGTON -- A judge sentenced Francisco Duran to 40 years in prison Thursday for shooting at the White House with an automatic weapon last October in an attempt to kill U.S. President Bill Clinton.


Judge Charles Richey rejected prosecution requests that Duran, a Colorado hotel worker found guilty by a jury April 3, be locked up for life as a deterrent to other would-be assassins. But the judge ruled there would be no chance of parole. Richey, who also imposed a fine of $3,200 to cover repairs to the White House, said the shooting "cannot be countenanced in a free society known as the United States of America."


Duran, 27, from Security, Colorado, whipped out a Chinese-made semi-automatic assault rifle from beneath a rain coat last Oct. 29 and sprayed the White House and its grounds with some 30 bullets from the sidewalk along Pennsylvania Avenue. No one was hurt.


Duran, dressed in a blue prison uniform, told the court before being sentenced: "My actions on October 29 were inexcusable. I very much wanted to die that day. I am sorry I not only ruined my future but that of my wife and son." He has a 6-year-old son named Alex.


The judge sentenced him to 360 months on the major count of attempting to kill the president and a further 10 years for firearms offenses.


During the 10-day trial Duran's lawyers portrayed him as a madman who was having hallucinations that an evil "mist," linked to the White House by an umbilical chord, controlled him and he wanted to kill it.


But the jury accepted prosecution arguments that Duran, influenced by right-wing radio talk shows and anti-government literature criticizing Clinton, opened fire when he saw a man resembling the president walk from the White House. Prosecutors said Duran bore a grudge against the government because he had been discharged from the Army after serving time for a run-in with a transvestite outside a bar in Honolulu, Hawaii.