AP

Kentucky man who shot classmates in ’97 imprisoned for life

Sep 26, 2022, 5:44 AM | Updated: 8:59 pm

A Kentucky man who killed three fellow students and wounded five others when he was 14 years old will have to spend the rest of his life in prison without another opportunity to seek parole, the Kentucky Parole Board voted Monday.

Michael Carneal, now 39, told parole board members last week that he would live with his parents and continue his mental health treatment if they agreed to release him. He admitted that he still hears voices like the ones that told him to steal a neighbor’s pistol and fire it into the crowded lobby of Heath High School in 1997. However, Carneal said that with therapy and medication, he has learned to control his behavior.

The board, meeting in Frankfort, voted 7-0 to deny parole, after deliberating in private for about 30 minutes. Carneal watched the vote over Zoom from the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange. He sat hunched in a small chair as Kentucky Parole Board Chair Ladeidra Jones asked each member for their vote.

Jones then told Carneal that “due to the seriousness of your crime” he would serve out his life sentence in prison.

Carneal said only, “Yes, ma’am” and quickly left.

Missy Jenkins Smith, who had considered Carneal a friend before she was paralyzed by one of his bullets, said she couldn’t sleep Sunday night because she was so anxious for the decision. She said she was in shock after hearing it.

“It’s so hard to believe I don’t have to worry about it again,” she said. “I guess I’ll realize it later. It will sink in.”

Jenkins Smith watched the hearing from her home in Kirksey with another victim, Kelly Hard Alsip, and their families. Her oldest son, who is 15, had been worried that if Carneal were released he would come to their house, she said.

Jenkins Smith, Alsip, others who were wounded in the shooting, and relatives of those who were killed spoke to the parole board panel last week. Most expressed a wish for Carneal to spend the rest of his life in prison. Carneal told the panel there are days that he believes he deserves to die for what he did, but other days he thinks he could still do some good in the world.

Jones earlier told Carneal their “number one charge is to maintain public safety.” She informed him that his inmate file listed his mental health prognosis as “poor” and says he experiences “paranoid thoughts with violent visual imagery.”

Speaking by videoconference from the Kentucky State Reformatory last week, Carneal apologized to his victims, including the entire tightknit community of Heath, just outside of Paducah. Killed in the Dec. 1, 1997, shooting were 17-year-old Jessica James, 15-year-old Kayce Steger, and 14-year-old Nicole Hadley, who Carneal said was a “very good friend” to him.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” he said. “I know it’s not going to change things or make anything better, but I am sorry for what I did.”

Carneal was a freshman when he opened fire on a before-school prayer circle that met in the lobby each morning. He was given the maximum sentence for someone his age at the time, life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

A two-person panel of the parole board considered his case last week but could not reach a unanimous decision, sending the case to the full board meeting on Monday.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

6 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

7 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

9 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

9 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Associated Press

Baby in Kansas City, Missouri, dies after her mother mistakenly put her in an oven

An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.

10 days ago

Former Arizona Department of Corrections boss Charles Ryan received probation on Feb. 9, 2024. (AP ...

Associated Press

Former Arizona corrections boss sentenced to probation over armed 2022 standoff with police

Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan was sentenced Friday to probation for his no-contest plea to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a 2022 armed standoff at his Tempe home.

11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Kentucky man who shot classmates in ’97 imprisoned for life