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Virginia Tech found negligent for delayed warning during '07 shooting massacre

Leah Palmer, half sister of Julie Pryde, one of the victims of the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, and their brother, Keith Pride, Friday, March 9, 2012 in Christiansburg, Va. Stephanie Klein-Davis,AP Photo/The Roanoke Times

(CBS/AP) CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. - A jury has found Virginia Tech University negligent for delaying a campus warning about the first shootings in the 2007 massacre that ultimately left 33 people dead.

Jurors returned the verdict Wednesday in a wrongful death civil suit brought by the parents of two students who were killed on April 16, 2007 in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

After 3 1/2 hours of deliberation, jurors awarded $4 million to each family, but the state immediately filed a motion to reduce the award. Jurors were not told state law requires the award to be capped at $100,000.

The families of Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde said the two might be alive today if Virginia Tech police and administrators warned the campus of two shootings in a dorm 2 1/2 hours before Seung-Hui Cho ended his killing spree, then killed himself.

Virginia Tech officials said they believed the first shootings were isolated.

The verdict was met immediately by sobs from Peterson's mother, Celeste.

Circuit Judge William Alexander said it was the hardest case he had been a part of.

"My heart goes out to all of you," he said to the Prydes and Petersons.

Complete coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre on Crimesider

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