School Shooter: I Still Hear Voices but Don't Obey Them

Michael Carneal will learn whether he is granted parole on Monday
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2022 8:36 AM CDT
School Shooter Tells Parole Board He Still Hears Voices
This screen shot from a Zoom video hearing shows Michael Carneal on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022 at Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange, Ky.   (Kentucky Parole Board via AP)

After 25 years in a Kentucky prison, convicted school shooter Michael Carneal made his case for parole on Tuesday—and discussed the voices in his head then and now. The then 14-year-old killed three female students and wounded five others at a before-school prayer group in Paducah's Heath High School in 1997. He told the two members of the Kentucky Parole Board he appeared before via video link that he was "hearing things" on the day of the shooting. "I was extremely hyper-suspicious" and had long felt "alienated and different," Carneal said. He said the voice instructed him to "pick up the gun out of the backpack and hold it in front of me and shoot." The 39-year-old was then asked if he still hears voices and responded in the affirmative, reports CNN.

"Most of the time, it's things that might hurt myself," he said, giving an example of what a voice told him a few days prior: jump off the stairs. He says he now knows the voices aren't real and doesn't comply, and he takes three psychiatric medications in addition to meeting with a psychologist and a psychiatrist. WDRB reports Parole Board Chair Ladeidra Jones told Carneal his mental health prognosis is listed as "poor" in his file. Carneal maintained that he hasn't obeyed the voices in years. His public defender reminded the board that Carneal was suffering from undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the shooting. He was sentenced to life in prison, but Kentucky law requires minors handed life sentences to be considered for parole after 25 years.

He'll learn his fate next week. Because the two members he appeared before didn't come to a unanimous decision, the full parole board will meet and make a decision on Monday. CNN notes the board members seemed bothered by the fact that his parole bid didn't include a letter from Carneal. He replied that "I thought everything had been covered in the plan in my parents' and my family's letter" but was told it was crucial the board understands how he plans to avoid committing future crimes. "And I'm not sure ... that you've provided us at this point with a real, in-depth plan," said Jones. The Courier-Journal reports surviving victims and their families addressed the parole board Monday; all but one of those who spoke asked that he remain incarcerated. (More school shooting stories.)

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