Rhodes said in a news conference after the hearing that he plans to appeal the sentence. The defense attorney said the state was "allowed to run away with this case," and he maintained that his client is innocence.
Holback, the prosecutor, said she was pleased with the ruling. "We're very satisfied with the sentence imposed. We believe justice has been served," she said.
The killings occurred after Cross Keys Elementary School let out for the day. The children went to their family's Fallstaff apartment and were beaten and nearly decapitated about 4:30 p.m., police say. The parents were not there at the time.
Espinoza and Canela went to the crime scene to comfort their grieving relatives, and a neighbor told police that she had noticed them acting suspiciously outside the family's apartment days earlier.
Within hours, they were arrested.
The main pieces of evidence against the defendants were several bloodstained articles of clothing. During the trial, prosecutors said DNA tests showed the men wore blue jeans with the children's blood on them. Defense attorneys argued the tests were inconclusive.
"No crime shocked this community more than did these," Mitchell said.