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Kentucky Youth Agrees to Plea Deal for Campus Shooting, Deaths

The suspect in a 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School has pleaded guilty to murder.

Gabe Parker, now 18, has accepted a plea deal stemming from the deaths of two Marshall County High School students in 2018. He will plead guilty to two counts of murder, and more lenient assault charges. Parker was 15 years old when open fire in a common area of the school, killing Preston Cope and Bailey Holt, both 15.

Parker brought his stepfather’s Ruger MK 11 .22-caliber pistol to school, committing the shooting, which also injured several other students. A sentencing hearing will be held June 12, and if the court agrees to the plea deal, he will be sentenced for two counts of first-degree murder, eight counts of first-degree assault and six counts of second-degree assault.

Marshall County Circuit Judge James Jameson will have to approve of the deal. If approved, Parker will be sentenced to life in prison, but will be eligible for parole at age 35.

Defense attorney Tom Griffiths said the plea deal will allow Parker to “start the next phase of his life where he’s going to have to earn any chance to ever be on the outside of a prison again,” according to The Courier Journal.

"Gabe has a lot to atone for," defense attorney Tom Griffiths told The Courier Journal. "This plea allows him to start the next phase in his life where he's going to have to earn any chance to ever be on the outside of a prison ever again.”

The Courier Journal also reported that Marshall County Commonwealth’s attorney Dennis Foust said the families of the murdered victims felt the plea was the right way to go, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which would have delayed the trial by as much as a year. The families were ready for closure and the opportunity to begin healing. Faust had refused any deals in the past.

Mary Garrison Minyard, Parker’s mother, sobbed throughout the court proceeding, saying in the statement, “To every child in the school that day, to every parent and loved one of those children; to the school system and entire community, I’m so sorry.”

Griffiths said his client has never denied the shooting and has been ready to enter a guilty plea for a while. He said prolonging the case would have served nothing, especially if the ongoing pandemic would have forced the trial to be continued this year, or even into 2021.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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