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Ky. board denies parole to 1997 Heath High School shooter

Some judges are releasing young people facing charges to protect them from the spread of COVID-19.
Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron
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A gavel rests inside the court room of the 100th Air Refueling Wing base legal office at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 28, 2019. The attorneys in the legal office offer commanders legal advice and also provide services like notaries, power of attorneys, wills and legal assistance to Team Mildenhall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

The Kentucky Parole Board voted unanimously Monday morning that Michael Carneal, who committed the 1997 Heath High School shooting, would be denied parole and serve out the remainder of his life sentence.

A 7-0 vote followed closed deliberations by the group which issued a brief statement shortly after the meeting ended, saying the decision “was made in compliance with Kentucky law and in effort to maintain a delicate balance between public safety, victim rights, reintegration of the offender and recidivism.”

Kentucky Parole Board chair Ladeidra Jones addressed Carneal to deliver the decision.

“After deliberating, Mr. Carneal, due to the seriousness of your crime – your crime involved a weapon, you had lives taken and the seriousness, again,” she said. “It is the decision of the parole board to allow you to serve out the remainder of your sentence.”

Carneal, who shot and killed three of his classmates and injured five others in West Paducah, was convicted in 1998 on three counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder and a count of first-degree burglary.

The full board took up the case after a smaller, two-person board heard testimony from Carneal and some of his victims last week.

Carneal's lawyer said he had undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia and was grappling with bullying and the transition to high school when he committed the shooting. Last week, he said he was still “hearing voices” after years of treatment and medication.