Parole hearing for Kentucky school shooter who killed 3 delayed: AP reports

It was one of the first school shootings in our country’s history, happening more than a year before Columbine.
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 11:09 PM EDT
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CAMPBELL COUNTY, Ky. (WXIX) - The Kentucky Parole Board is delaying its decision until Monday on whether or not a convicted school shooter will be released, according to the Associated Press.

Michael Carneal opened fire in a Paducah high school on Dec. 1, 1997, killing three and injuring five others.

The Kentucky Parole Board heard Carneal’s testimony Tuesday. He told the board he still hears voices like the ones that told him to steal a pistol and shoot into a crowded high school lobby in 1997, the AP reports.

If he should get parole, he would possibly move in with his parents in Cold Spring, according to a report from the Louisville Courier Journal.

Missy Jenkins Smith was one of Carneal’s victims in the shootings. She says he should not see the light of day.

“December the first, I didn’t have control of that day,” she said Monday.

Smith says the shooting happened shortly after she had gathered in a prayer circle at her high school, something they did every morning.

“After we said amen, I had just enough time to walk to the middle of the lobby,” she recalled, “and that’s when he had enough time to pull the gun out of his backpack.”

Carneal was 14 at the time. Investigators say he opened fire on the prayer group, instantly killing three girls. Smith was among those who were shot and survived.

“I don’t remember feeling hurt,” she said. “It was almost like fainting.”

Within seconds, she says she knew she was paralyzed because she couldn’t feel anything below her sternum.

Smith says the bullet entered the left side of her chest, missing her heart but ricocheting through her body before leaving through her back. She remains in a wheelchair.

“I was realizing I was getting a second chance at life again,” she said. “And that I was blessed for that, and not being able to walk is nothing compared to what could have been.”

Carneal pleaded guilty to three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder. He got a life prison sentence with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

Smith says she’s forgiven him over the years and even talked with him face-to-face. Despite that, she still believes he should not get out.

“The victims who survived his choice to bring a gun to school and pull the trigger have a sentence of life,” she said.

Criminal defense attorney Brian Halloran of Halloran and Brooking says explains what happens next.

“Mr. Carneal does have rights, just like we all do, and they are specified in the law,” he said. “Those rights are, he ultimately gets to have a parole hearing. The victims get a chance to go in and talk and get to have their sides heard.”

Halloran says it’s unlikely Carneal gets released due to the degree of the charges.

Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders calls Carneal’s conduct” inexcusable” in a letter written to the parole board.

“Justice and public safety demand he serves every day of his sentence,” he wrote.

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