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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Less than three weeks before his trial was scheduled to begin, Hammad Memon made a surprise move on Tuesday, pleading guilty to the murder of a classmate at Discovery Middle School in February 2010.

Memon appeared before Madison County Circuit Judge Karen Hall with two of his lawyers and apologized to the family of Todd Brown, the student he shot.

“I’ve caused many problems, especially to the family of Todd Brown,” Memon said in court. “I pray they can forgive me and I throw myself on the mercy of the court.”

Judge Hall sentenced Memon to 30 years.  Prior to sentencing, she went over the plea agreement in detail, making sure Memon understood what was taking place and making sure he understood he had the right to stand trial.  Memon said he understood.

The judge also asked his lawyers if they believed their client, who is 17, understood what was happening.  They said yes, they did.

Memon’s attorney Bruce Gardner said his client decided to take the deal after a few days of consideration.

“There was not a viable defense we could put forward for Hammad’s conduct on that afternoon,” said Gardner, who then explained Memmon’s brief statement. “Forgiveness is part of Hammad’s faith, as it is with many, and that was his moment, his words.”

Prosecutors said Todd Brown’s family gave their blessing to the plea agreement earlier in the day.

“It’s a no-win case for everbody, both families are torn to pieces,” said Assistant District Attorney Tim Gann. “I talked with them [Brown family] this morning, and they are okay with it. They are very happy that this came to a conclusion, and they’re very happy with the result…it’s good to have it over with so we can all move on.”

At the start of the proceeding, Judge Hall denied a request for youthful offender status from Memon’s attorneys.

Memon’s family did not appear to be present in court.  Several of Brown’s family members were in attendance, but did not speak publicly about the developments.

Whether Memon will get credit for any time served will be determined at a later date. That is likely to be anywhere between one to two years.  Memon will be eligible for parole in 15 years, but that could be decreased to 13 1/2 years, if credit for time served is factored in.

He will also have to pay a $10,000 fine and restitution.

Read more details in our courtroom blog on