PADUCAH — In December 1997, more than a year before the Columbine High School shooting, 14-year-old Michael Carneal killed three students and injured five more in a shooting at Heath High School in West Paducah. This October, nearly 25 years later, Carneal will have his case heard before a parole board for the first time.

In a public hearing held virtually, the board will hear testimony from victims and consider whether to grant Carneal parole.

Kentucky statute limits the maximum sentence for a juvenile tried as an adult to life without the possibility of parole for 25 years. After that, though the parole board may deny the requests, the offender is at least eligible to be considered for parole.

McCracken County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jamey Mills said that, while direct testimony during the hearing will be restricted to close relatives of those killed or injured, as well as injured victims themselves, anyone can write a letter to be considered by the board.

Those letters, or a victim impact form provided by the parole board, must be mailed to the parole board and received no later than Aug. 30.

The date for the hearing has not yet been made public, but will be announced at a later date.

“I want this to go smoothly because it affected so many people,” Mills said.

“We just want to make sure that we can facilitate people being informed and having the access that they need.”

Christina Ellegood, who survived the shooting that killed her sister, Nicole Hadley, encouraged anyone interested to write to the board.

She did not want to mention her opinion in a recent interview because she wanted everyone to be able to present their own thoughts without her weighing in.

Whatever their opinions, though, Ellegood said it’s important for the parole board to get an accurate understanding of community sentiment.

“It could drastically change how people live their lives, how safe they feel,” Ellegood said.

“Some people might think he served the time he needs to serve because of his age at the time.”

Letters can be mailed to: Kentucky Parole Board, P.O. Box 2400, Frankfort, KY 40602. To request a victim statement form, contact the parole board at pbvictimservices@ky.gov or call (800) 221-5991.

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