Victim reacts to shooter's change of plea - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Victim reacts to shooter's change of plea

Heath High School shooter Michael Carneal wants a second chance from Kentucky's Supreme Court. His hearing tomorrow comes eleven years after he killed three students and injured five others.

Michael Carneal says that back in 1998 he wasn't able to understand what his guilty plea meant. That's despite five psychologists who said the opposite at the time.

Michael Carneal was 14 when he opened fire on a prayer group at Heath High School in late 1997. He was 15 when he stood in court almost a year later.

The judge later gave Carneal life in prison without parole for 25 years. He's 25 years old now and is serving that sentence at the state reformatory in La Grange.

And Carneal now argues he was too mentally ill to understand the consequences of his plea. On Thursday, his attorneys will ask the Kentucky Supreme Court for a new mental competency hearing and perhaps a trial.

"The girls that died in this aren't getting a second chance. So I don't think he should get a second chance either," said Missy Jenkins Smith, shooting victim.

Missy Jenkins Smith was one of the five students wounded at Heath High School. She uses a wheelchair as a result.

"I feel like maybe they can see I'm still dealing with that, and he needs to deal with that as well," said Smith.

Smith is now 26 years old. She's married and has a one-year old son. She graduated Murray State University in 2004 and became a counselor at a school for troubled teens.

Carneal had told authorities he shot his friends because he had been bullied at school. Smith believes he fully understood what we was doing then, what he agreed to in court a year later, and still does now.

"Whenever he pled guilty he said then that he was trying to spare everybody a trial. Well, it's just as hurtful today as it was then. I still don't want to have to deal with that now," said Smith.

Missy Jenkins Smith spoke with Carneal in prison last year. She has forgiven him. She'll attend the hearing tomorrow.


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