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US school shooter denied parole

By AI HEPING  in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-09-27 11:19

The Kentucky Parole Board on Monday ordered Michael Carneal to spend the rest of his life in prison for shooting three fellow students to death and wounding five at Heath High School in West Paducah 25 years ago.

The ruling by all seven members of the parole board means Carneal, 39, will never be considered for parole again. 

Board chair Ladeidra Jones told Carneal that "due to the seriousness of the crime" and because "lives were taken, it is the decision of the parole board" that "you will serve out your sentence". She said the board is prohibited by law from discussing its deliberations, as they occurred in closed session.

The board said in a statement that its decision was made "in compliance with Kentucky law and in an effort to maintain a delicate balance between public safety, victim rights, reintegration of the offender and recidivism".

Carneal testified on Sept 20 that he still hears voices in his head like the ones he said told him to open fire on Dec 1, 1997. He said that he had heard voices two days earlier telling him to jump down a stairway. 

Carneal opened fire on a prayer circle gathered before school with a semiautomatic pistol he had stolen from a neighbor's garage. It was one of the first mass school shootings in the United States. 

He pleaded guilty to murder, attempted murder, and burglary of the gun and was sentenced to life. Because he was only 14 at the time, he was entitled to parole consideration after 25 years. He was believed to be one of the first school shooters to come up for parole; the rest died in their attacks or were sentenced to life in prison. 

He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and takes three medications for it, he testified. 

Families of his victims testified on Sept 19 before two members of the parole board that there is no guarantee he would continue to take it after he was released. 

All but one testified against paroling him — Hollan Holm, who had a scalp would from the shooting. "If the metal health experts think he can be successful on the outside, he should get that chance," Holm said.

Carneal killed three fellow students — Kayce Steger, 15, Nicole Hadley, 14, and Jessica James, 17, and in addition to Holm, wounded Missy Jenkins Smith, who was paralyzed from the chest down, Shelly Schaberg, Kelly Hard Alsip and Craig Keene.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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