BEDFORD, VA., SEPT. 4 -- Jens Soering was sentenced to two life terms today for what a judge called a "terrible, terrible" double murder after Soering, his parents and his attorney insisted he was innocent of killing his girlfriend's parents.

Bedford County Circuit Court Judge William Sweeney said he approved of a jury's decision in June to find the West German diplomat's son guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.

Soering was accused of killing retired steel industry executive Derek Haysom, 72, and Nancy Haysom, 53, in their suburban Lynchburg home in March 1985 because they opposed his relationship with Elizabeth Haysom. Soering claimed she committed the murders and he falsely confessed to save her from execution.

Sweeney ordered the sentences to run consecutively rather than concurrently, which makes Soering, 23, eligible for parole in 20 years rather than 15 years.

Nancy Haysom's brother, Risque Benedict, read a statement outside the courthouse in which he said Soering and Elizabeth Haysom never should be paroled because of the "heinous nature of the crimes."

Soering, the jury found, stabbed the Haysoms through the heart and slashed their throats. Elizabeth Haysom pleaded guilty in 1987 to planning the murders and Sweeney sentenced her to 90 years in prison.

Soering's attorney, Richard Neaton, said after the hearing that he will file an appeal asking for a new trial in another county and before a different judge.

Sweeney asked Soering if he saw any reason sentence should not be pronounced. "I am innocent," Soering said.

Neaton read a statement from Soering's parents, who live in Mauritania and did not attend the hearing.

Jens Soering, who was 18 at the time of the slayings, stepped in to protect Elizabeth Haysom, 26, "out of a foolish sense of love," they wrote.