A Kentucky man who killed three students and wounded five more in a school shooting 25 years ago told a parole panel on Tuesday that he is still hearing voices like the ones that told him to steal a pistol and shoot into a crowded high school lobby in 1997.
The two-person panel hearing Michael Carneal’s testimony deferred a decision until Monday, when the state’s entire parole board will meet and could decide to grant his parole request, defer his next parole decision to a later date, or determine that he must spend the rest of his life in prison.
Carneal was a 14-year-old freshman on Dec. 1, 1997, when he fired the stolen pistol at a before-school prayer group in the lobby of Heath High School, near Paducah, Kentucky. School shootings were not yet a depressing part of the national consciousness, and Carneal was given the maximum sentence possible at the time for someone his age — life in prison with the possibility of parole. A quarter century later, in the shadow of Uvalde and in a nation disgusted by the carnage of mass shootings, Carneal, now 39, tried Tuesday to convince the parole panel he deserves to be freed.
Parole Board Chair Ladeidra Jones told Carneal after his testimony that the two members had not reached a unanimous decision and were referring his case to the full board, which meets on Monday. Only the full board has the power to order Carneal to serve out his full sentence without another chance at parole.
Speaking on a videoconference from the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange, Carneal told the panel that at the time of the shooting, “I was hearing in my head to do certain things, but I should have known that stealing guns … was going to lead to something terrible.” He said he has been receiving therapy and taking psychiatric medications in prison but admitted that he still hears voices. As recently as a couple of days ago, he heard voices telling him to jump off the stairs.
Jones told Carneal that his inmate file lists his mental health prognosis as “poor” and says that even with mental health services, he is still experiencing paranoid thoughts with violent imagery.
Asked how the board could be assured that he would not act on those thoughts, Carneal said he has learned to ignore them and hasn’t acted on them for many years. He said there are days that he believes he deserves to die for what he did, but other days he thinks he can still do some good in the world.
“It doesn’t have to be something grand,” he said. “Every little thing you do affects somebody. It could be listening to someone, carrying something. I would like to do something in the future that could contribute to society.”
Carneal attributed the shooting to a combination of factors that included his mental health and immaturity, but added that it was “not justified at all. There’s no excuse for it at all.”
Killed in the shooting …read more
Source:: Headlines News4jax
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