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'I am sorry for what I did': Kentucky school shooter speaks at parole hearing

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Posted at 2:42 PM, Sep 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-20 17:17:23-04

LA GRANGE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Michael Carneal was neither granted nor denied parole on Tuesday. After waiting for 25 years, he’ll have to wait another six days after a truncated parole board couldn’t come to a unanimous decision on Tuesday morning. The full board will now review his case on September 26.

Carneal, the man who admitted to killing three classmates and wounding five others in December 1, 1997, Heath High School shooting in Paducah, sat for his parole hearing for nearly an hour on Tuesday answering questions about his current mental health, his mental state at the time of the shooting when he was 14-years-old, and why he feels he is worthy of being released from a life sentence.

“Depends on when you ask me,” he replied when asked about being deserving of parole. “Sometimes I think I deserve to be killed. Other times I think, due to the fact that I could do some good for a lot of people, maybe, that it would be beneficial if I were to be released someday,” he continued.

Carneal said voices in his head told him to do some terrible things back in 1997. He told the board that at times, those voices still return, but in a less violent form. Oftentimes, he said, they tell him to harm himself.

“Like to jump down the stairs,” he told the board members.

Carneal said he is currently taking three medications for his mental health, finished his GED while in prison, and has been working with different psychiatrists and psychologists over the years. He assured the board members he’d continue with his medications and counseling if released.

“Now I know it’s not something I should do, and I’m able to not do it,” he said when the voices in his head suggest doing something violent, or dangerous to himself..

Carneal was also asked about what kind of support system he’d have outside of prison. He mentioned living with his parents until he can get back on his feet, and talked about a sister, with whom he’s recently reconnected. He’d like to function on his own, at some point.

“I plan on getting a job. I’m not really particular about what kind of job I’d have,” he said, before suggesting some type of employment at a fast food restaurant.

Perhaps the most compelling thing we heard from Carneal centered around the other school shootings that have happened in the 25 years since. Carneal was one of the first high-profile school shooters we’ve had.

“I feel responsible for them,” he said. He then alluded to his feelings following the April 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, which took place 18 months after the Paducah shooting.

“That’s when I became suicidal and I attempted to hurt myself. I had to be hospitalized,” he explained.

Before Carneal’s hearing ended, he was given a chance to make a final statement.

“I know it’s not going to change anything. It’s not going to make anything better, but I want them to know I am sorry for what I did,” he said.