The man who shot and killed three classmates at a Paducah High School in 1997 has lost a bid to withdraw his guilty plea. The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cinncinati ruled Thursday that 29-year-old Michael Carneal could have acted sooner to seek a new trial. The unanimous opinion upholds a 2011 ruling by a federal judge who denied Carneal’s request.
Carneal shot into a prayer circle at Heath High School in Paducah, killing three classmates and wounding five others.
Attorneys for Carneal, who was 14 at the time of the shooting, argued he was mentally unfit to accept responsibility for the crime. Carneal pled guilty in 1998 and did not ask to withdraw the plea until 2009.
The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office argued the appeal was not timely and therefore his conviction and life sentence should stand.
"I hope this ruling brings some level of comfort to the families who lost loved ones and the victims who are still living with the injuries Carneal inflicted," Attorney General Jack Conway said.
Prosecutors were able to prove that Carneal was competent in 2002, at which time he could have filed an appeal of his conviction.