Michael Carneal was 14 when he opened fire on his classmates during a before-school prayer meeting near Paducah, Kentucky, in December 1997.
Three students were killed and five more injured in a shooting that ended when Carneal put down his weapon and the principal walked him to the school office.
Now he’s up for parole, because his life sentence guaranteed an opportunity for parole after 25 years, the maximum sentence permissible at the time given his age, according to a report.
Carneal, now 39, has a parole hearing next week.
One of his victims, who visited him in jail, said she has been keeping track of Carneal’s time in prison since he first went in.
“Twenty-five years seemed like so long, so far away,” Missy Jenkins Smith told the AP about her memory at the time of the sentencing.
Jenkins Smith was 15 when she was shot by Carneal, someone she considered a friend. The bullet left her paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
“I would think, ‘It’s been 10 years. How many more years?’ At the 20-year anniversary memorial, I thought, ‘It’s coming up.’”
Jenkins Smith visited Carneal in jail in 2007 and she said he apologized and she forgave him. But she doesn’t want Carneal to go free.
“For him to have a chance at 39. People get married at 39. They have children,” she said. “It’s not right for him to possibly have a normal life that those three girls he killed will never have.”
Killed in the shooting were 14-year-old Nicole Hadley, 17-year-old Jessica James, and 15-year-old Kayce Steger.
The shooting at Heath High School took place on Dec. 1, 1997, the Monday after Thanksgiving break.
With Post Wires