During the trial, Steger and other university officials testified that police investigators had concluded that the first shootings had all the signs of targeted domestic violence, and not the work of someone intent on mass killing. They delayed fully informing the campus of the shootings even though the gunman remained unaccounted for and they pursued a lead that was fruitless.
Steger said he heeded the advice of police investigators at the scene.
A full alert informing the campus of the first shootings wasn't released until 2 ½ hours later as Cho concluded his killing spree at Norris Hall, chaining the doors of the classroom building to ensure students and faculty could not flee and killing 30. Peterson and Pryde were among the dead in Norris.
While a Tech spokesman said the university had not seen the parents' appeal, he said "university leaders acted appropriately in the events leading up to, during, and after the tragic events of April 16, 2007."
"An unthinkable, horrible crime occurred that day by the hands of Seung-Hui Cho," spokesman Mark Owczarski said in a statement Thursday. "The university community has shown uncommon strength during a challenging and painful period that has united alumni, students, faculty and staff more tightly than ever. We are resolved to learn from the tragedy. We remember the lives lost. We honor them and always will."
Besides accountability, taking Steger to trial would also increase the prospect of larger damages for the Petersons and Prydes, perhaps up to $2 million from the state's risk management plan.
The Petersons and the Prydes were the only eligible families to reject their share of an $11 million settlement in 2008.
Steve Szkotak can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sszkotakap.