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.
In the wake of last week's shooting death of 26 people at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is joining a chorus of public officials who say a national debate on gun control and mental health is needed.
Beshear is typically friendly to the National Rifle Association -- and he wouldn't comment Thursday on specific proposals. But Beshear said Thursday that he's keeping an open mind about the gun control issue.
“And I think it says to all of us, whether you’re in public office or in the private sector, that we all ought to be open to looking and thinking about any and all options out there to protect our children,” he said.
The governor also says the issue must be discussed on a national level, because state-by-state regulations would have a weak effect.