At the time of the shooting, Carneal was a minor when sentenced, and the law says he’s entitled to parole after serving 25 years in prison.
Carneal is now trying to gain parole, but the surviving victims and victim’s family members pushed back against the possibility of it with The Kentucky Parole Board on Monday, with their victim’s impact statements.
Chuck and Gwen Hadley are the parents of Nicole Hadley, one 14-year-old student who lost her life at the heath high school shooting 25 years ago. The Hadleys fought back against Carneal’s parole request.
“He has never shown remorse or taken responsibility for what he’s done,” Hadley said. “I believe the murderer should remain in prison and serve a life sentence.”
Hadley’s older sister, Christina Ellegood, also spoke about how she found her sister fatally shot in the forehead that day, and that Carneal premeditated her sister’s murder.
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“Nicole walked with Michael at their eighth graduation, Michael was not a kid who did not have friends as he’d led to be,” Hadley said. “Michael asked her to out and she turned him down, which she was not happy about. Nicole was the first one shot and I believe Michael knew what he was doing the day of the shooting.”
Andrew Hadley, Nicole’s brother, also weighed in on how his sister’s death is still owed justice after all these years.
“We were sentenced to a life of pain and suffering on that day we lost Nicole, Jessica, and Casey, and the five others that were shot,” Hadley said. “And with that to this day, I still don’t understand why he even has the option of parole. We were not given justice with his sentence.”
The surviving victims gave different perspectives on how it would feel, knowing their shooter would be back in society.
Missy Jenkins Smith, one surviving victim who was left paralyzed from the shooting, shared that she’s visited Carneal before, and learned that in recent years, memorabilia promoting Carneal as a serial killer was being sold for profit.
“There are too many what ifs, to assume he’d be responsible enough to take care of himself, and not harm anyone again, to continue life in prison is the only way his victims can feel safe and comfortable,” Jenkins said.
However, Hollan Holm, the victim who was shot in the head and survived, spoke with compassion about Carneal’s parole.
“If the board were to grant parole for Michael Carneal, I understand it wouldn’t be a walk out of the doors with no strings attached,” Holm said. “It will be incredibly difficult for someone who has been incarcerated for most of his life. I think about the 14-year-old boy who acted that day, and I think of my own children, and I think the man that boy became should get the chance to try and do better. Thank you.”
On Tuesday, Carneal will have his turn to make his case for release from the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange. If the parole board rules against his release, it will then determine how long Carneal will have to wait before his next opportunity to seek parole.