KENTUCKY (WEHT) – A Kentucky man who killed three fellow students and wounded five others when he was 14 years old will have to spend the rest of his life in prison without another opportunity to seek parole, the Kentucky Parole Board voted Monday.

Parole was denied for Michael Carneal, the man who killed three and injured five others in the Heath High School shooting in Paducah in December, 1997. 17-year-old Jessica James, 15-year-old Kayce Steger, and 14-year-old Nicole Hadley died in the shooting. Carneal will serve out his sentence.

The unanimous decision by the full Kentucky Parole Board happened about a week after a panel could not reach a unanimous decision.

“it is the decision of the parole board today to serve out the remainder of your sentence,” said Ladeidra Jones, chair of the Kentucky Parole Board.

“Yes, ma’am,” Carneal replied, before leaving the room. Those were the only words Carneal said after learning his parole bid was denied this morning and before walking out.

“I think we kind of feel justice at this point,” said Missy Jenkins Smith, who survived the shooting. She says she suspected Carneal wouldn’t get out on parole based on his testimony last Tuesday.

“I just had this feeling, just based on his answers last Tuesday, that I couldn’t imagine anyone feeling comfortable giving someone parole on the answers the way he did,” Smith said.

Parole board members say the decision was based on the seriousness of the crime, a weapon being involved, and lives were taken. Carneal said he was sorry for his actions during last week’s hearing, but most family and friends of victims and survivors testified he should not be let out. Smith says she was a little surprised the decision was unanimous and that it means others don’t have to worry if he got parole.

“I don’t have to focus on the part that involves him anymore. He’s dealing with the consequences of his actions, just like everyone else he made the decision for that day that have to live with it for the rest of their lives,” says Smith.

The Kentucky Parole Board said its decision was made in compliance with state law, and in effort to maintain balance between public safety, victim rights, reintegration of offender and recidivism.

(This story was originally published on September 26, 2022)