The state was the lone defendant in the case and argued that the university did all that it could with the information available at the time. President Charles W. Steger and other university officials have said they initially believed the first two shootings were isolated instances of domestic violence.
The jury awarded $4 million each to the families of Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde, but the state immediately filed a motion to reduce the award. State law requires the award to be capped at $100,000.
"The university's contention has been all along, to quote President Steger, 'We did everything we could do,' " said Robert T. Hall, an attorney for the parents. "Obviously the jury didn't buy that."
The verdict was met immediately by sobs from Peterson's mother, Celeste, while the Prydes showed little emotion.
"Today we got what we wanted," Celeste Peterson said afterward. "The truth is out there, and that's all we ever wanted. We came here for the truth."
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 families of victims.
Virginia Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said after the verdict that the school would review the case with the attorney general before deciding on any further options.
"We are disappointed with today's decision and stand by our long-held position that the administration and law enforcement at Virginia Tech did their absolute best with the information available on April 16, 2007," a statement from Owczarski said.
A state panel that investigated the shootings concluded that officials erred in not sending an alert earlier. The lag in issuing a campus warning also brought Virginia Tech a $55,000 fine from the U.S. Education Department. The school is appealing.