Carneal reacts to parole denial

Local prosecutors react to the unanimous decision to keep Heath High School shooter Michael Carneal behind bars for the rest of his life.
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 4:29 PM CDT
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MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Ky. (KFVS) - Prosecutors in McCracken County say the decision to keep Michael Carneal behind bars for the rest of his life should make the entire community feel safer.

The Kentucky Parole Board reached that decision Monday morning, September 26 after about 30 minutes of deliberation.

As we approach the 25th anniversary of Carneal’s crimes, local prosecutors say the unanimous vote sends the right message to his victims, and the community.

“It is the decision of the Parole Board today to allow you to serve out the remainder of your sentence,” Board Chair Ladeidra Jones told Michael Carneal Monday morning. “Thank you, sir.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Carneal responded.

With those two words, Michael Carneal rose from his chair and headed back to serve his life sentence at the Kentucky State Reformatory.

Dan Boaz serves as McCracken County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

“I think the victims’ families and the victims who are still with us were all quite pleased with the outcome of it. I thought it was an appropriate outcome based on the evidence presented to the parole board,” he said.

That evidence presented September 19 and 20 included virtual testimony from the family of murder victim Nicole Hadley, along with living victims Missy Jenkins-Smith and Hollan Holm.

“It makes the victims of this feel a whole lot safer. And that’s really what it’s all about,” Boaz continued.

The board also questioned Carneal about the crimes, his mental state and any plans for his future had he been released.

“Sometimes I think, you know, that I would just deserve to be killed. You know, sometimes I think that. Honestly. And then other times I think that, due to the fact that I could do some good for a lot of people maybe, that it would be, it would be beneficial if I were released someday,” he said.

First Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney James Mills said the board’s unanimous decision did not surprise him.

“I think after he testified, I think most anyone would be skeptical about his remorse about what he did. And also his plan going forward to try and be successful on parole.”

Mills said they knew interest in Carneal’s parole hearing would be high.

“Our main goal, as an office in this, was to try to make sure this was as transparent as possible. And that it didn’t seem to be happening behind closed doors. That people would be able to watch what happened. The testimony. And the entire proceedings. In real time,” he explained.

Now that the process is over, prosecutors say they hope the entire community can move forward feeling safer.

“I hope that this brings some measure of closure to the victims of this crime,” Mills said. “And, hopefully, they can move on as best they can. And without fear that we are going to have to revisit this in the near future.”

Because the board voted unanimously for Michael Carneal to serve out the remainder of his sentence, his parole status will not come up for review in the future.