The teen found guilty of stabbing a classmate to death at Coral Gables High School during a fight was sentenced to 40 years behind bars Tuesday.
Andy Rodriguez, 19, will also serve 10 years' probation upon his release, a Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Dava Tunis ruled. He had been facing life behind bars in the stabbing death of classmate Juan Carlos Rivera.
"It is the court's ruling to balance the circumstances of this case," Tunis said. "Considering the young age of the defendant and the lack of prior incidents."
Before the sentence was handed down, Rodriguez briefly addressed the judge.
"I ask for forgiveness...I am not a murderer, I don't behave like a murderer," Rodriguez said in Spanish.
Alexander Michael, Rodriguez's attorney, had tried to persuade the teen from speaking. Michael said Rodriguez was suffering from depression and was very remorseful.
Rodriguez was found guilty of second-degree murder in August in the September 2009 stabbing death of Rivera.
Rodriguez and Rivera, both 17 at the time, had gotten into a fight in the halls of the school before Rodriguez pulled out a knife and stabbed Rivera in the school's courtyard.
Prosecutors had alleged Rodriguez was the instigator of the deadly fight and painted the teen as a jealous boyfriend who was mad at a rival.
But Rodriguez's attorneys told jurors their client acted in self-defense and was being choked at the time of the stabbing.
Rivera's family attended Tuesday's sentencing, but declined comment. Michael also declined comment after the sentencing.
"There is nothing to celebrate today. The sentencing today of Andy Rodriguez is a double tragedy," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "A deadly anger by a jealous young man sadly ended the life of Juan Carlos Rivera and has destroyed two families. Two young lives with such potential, ruined. Two futures lost forever."
Earlier this month, a settlement was reached between the Miami-Dade County School Board and the family of Rivera. Rivera's family had filed a negligence lawsuit, claiming the school left areas unsupervised.
"We accept the decision of the judge.We are disspointed that the mother is not satsfied," Rundle said.