Cold Spring mayor addresses concern that Paducah school shooter would move there

Meghan Goth
Meghan Goth
Meghan Goth is LINK nky's managing editor. Email her at [email protected]

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Cold Spring Mayor Angelo Penque released a statement to the city Wednesday regarding media reports that Michael Carneal, who killed three students at a school shooting in Paducah in 1997, would come to live in Cold Spring with his parents if he is released on parole.

Carneal was 14 at the time of the shooting. The Kentucky Parole Board was considering Carneal’s case Tuesday and was unable to reach a unanimous decision. The board will meet again Monday in an attempt to make a decision then, according to CNN.

Carneal, now 39, was sentenced to life in prison, but Kentucky law requires that minors be considered for parole after 25 years. He is serving his sentence at the Kentucky State Reformatory near Louisville.

Michael Carneal. Photo provided | KSP

CNN reported that, according to the re-entry plan presented to the parole board, Carneal will move in with his parents in Cold Spring if released. The plan also says that he will be referred to mental health programs in Cold Spring and Erlanger.

“Mr. Carneal, who was 14 at the time, was charted as an adult and given the maximum sentence afforded by law for a person his age,” Penque wrote in the memo he released Wednesday. “There was not a reduced sentence, he received the maximum allowed by law.”

Penque went on to say that the city has received many calls from worried residents that Carneal would be living in Cold Spring if granted parole.

“First, I would ask that Cold Spring residents respect the privacy of Mr. Carneal’s parents,” Penque said.

He went on to explain that Carneal is required to have a parole hearing after completing 25 years of incarceration.

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“This was a right afforded by the laws of our Commonwealth and cannot be taken away, no matter how horrendous the crime,” Penque said.

Penque wrote that there is no guarantee parole will be granted, and that press reports indicate that the McCracken County (Paducah) Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is opposed to parole.

“Mr. Carneal’s inmate file states his mental health prognosis is ‘poor’ and he admits to continuing to hear voices,” Penque wrote. “These factors make it difficult for the Parole Board to grant parole while balancing public safety issues. The parole application was referred to the full parole board due to the initial two members not having reached a unanimous decision; this does not mean that one member voted in favor for parole.”

It could mean, Penque wrote, that there was a difference of opinion on when to allow further consideration of parole in the future.

“While I understand many in our community are concerned, I wanted to provide clarity as to how the system works and that prosecutors and mental health professionals are ensuring that all evidence is before the Board,” he wrote. “Again, I would ask that everyone respect the privacy of the members of our community.”

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