On Tuesday, a Kentucky man who killed three students. Injured five others told a parole panel 25 years ago in a school shooting. That he was still hearing voices telling him to steal a pistol. Then shoot into a high school lobby in 1997.
The two-person panel hearing Michael Carneal’s testimony postponed a decision until Monday. When the entire state parole board could grant his parole request. Postpone his next parole decision, or sentence him to life in prison.
Carneal, a 14-year-old freshman, opened fire on a prayer group. At Heath High School near Paducah on December 1, 1997.
Carneal Sentence for Lifetime
Carneal received the maximum sentence possible for someone his age at the time. Life in prison with the possibility of parole. Carneal, now 39, attempted to persuade the parole board that he deserved to be released.
Ladera Jones, the board chair, informed Carneal that the two members were referring his case to the full board. Only the entire board has the authority to order Carneal. Then to serve his complete sentence without the possibility of parole.
Speaking from the Kentucky state reformatory in La Grange, Carneal stated, “I was hearing in my head to do certain things at the time of the shooting. But I should have known that stealing guns would lead to something disastrous.”
He stated that he has been receiving therapy and medication. Although still hears voices. He said he heard voices telling him to jump off the stairs just a few days ago.
Carneal’s Paranoid Thoughts
Jones told Carneal that his mental health prognosis is “poor” in his inmate file and that he still has paranoid thoughts with violent imagery even with mental health services.
When asked how the board could be sure. That he wouldn’t act on those thoughts, Carneal said he’d learned to ignore them. He also stated that there are days when he believes he deserves to die for what he did. But there are also days when he thinks he can still make a difference in the world.
“It doesn’t have to be something big,” he explained. “Everything you do has an impact on someone.” It could be paying attention to someone or carrying something. In the future, I’d like to do something that will benefit society.”
Carneal blamed the shooting on factors such as his mental health and immaturity. But said it was “completely unjustified.” There is no excuse for it.”
Nicole Hadley, 14, Jessica James, 17, and Kayce Steger, 15, were all killed in the shooting. Carneal claimed to have known all of his victims.
“Nicole was a wonderful friend,” he said. “I knew some of them better than others, but it was a small school, and many were in the band with me.” I’d attended several of their birthday parties. I have no negative memories of any of them.”
He concluded with an apology: “I’d like to apologize to you, the victims, their friends and families, and the entire community for what I did.” I know it won’t change anything or make things better, but I apologize for what I did.”
The Survived Victims’ Ordeal
Missy Jenkins Smith, paralyzed in the shooting and used a wheelchair, was watching from her home in Kirksey. Her friend Kelly Hard Alsip, who was also injured, and their children and relatives, stood by. They laughed as Carneal stated that he had not targeted the prayer group. When he said he heard voices two days ago, they were taken aback.
Jenkins Smith expressed disappointment at waiting another week to find out what would happen but added that “at least he’s not being released.”
She told the parole board panel on Monday that there were too many “what ifs.” What if he doesn’t take his medication? What if his medication no longer works?
“The only way his victims can feel comfortable and safe is for him to continue his life in prison,” she explained.
She also stated that releasing Carneal would be unjust to the girls he killed and their loved ones.
“They will always be 17 years old, 14 years old, and 15 years old, with only one full decade of life.” “As a result of Michael’s decision,” she explained.
Christina Hadley Ellegood, whose sister Nicole was killed, testified on Monday. Ellegood wrote about finding her sister’s body and having to call their mother to inform her that Nicole had been shot.
“There was no one I could turn to who understood what I was going through,” she explained. “It’s not fair to me for him to be able to roam around freely while we live in fear of where he might be.”
Hollan’s Description About the Incident and His Experience as Victim
Hollan Holm, who was injured, described lying on the floor, bleeding from his head, and believing he would die on Monday. He said Carneal was too young to understand the consequences of his actions and should be released.
“When I think of Michael Carneal, I think of the kid I used to ride the bus with every day,” he explained. “I recall the child with whom I shared a lunch table in third grade. I imagine what he could have become if he could make a different choice or take a different path that day.”