Gabe Parker was fifteen years old when he brought a gun to school in Kentucky that would leave two fellow students dead. According to prosecutors Gabe Parker entered Marshall County High School shortly before 8 a.m. on Jan. 23 opening fire with a handgun leaving two students dead and fourteen others injured. This teen killer would be arrested shortly after the shooting and would confess to police he was responsible. At trial Gabe Parker would plead guilty to two counts of murder and eight counts of first degree assault and six counts of second degree assault. Gabe Parker would be sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole after twenty years
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Gabe Parker, the teenager who opened fire inside a Kentucky school in 2018, killing two students, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of murder and multiple counts of assault.
As part of the plea deal, a judge is expected to sentence him June 12 to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years.
Parker had been indicted on two counts of murder and 14 counts of assault after he opened fire with a handgun at Marshall County High School shortly before 8 a.m. on Jan. 23. Bailey Holt and Preston Ryan Cope — both 15-year-old students — died in the attack. He pleaded guilty to eight counts of 1st degree assault and six counts of 2nd degree assault.
Parker, now 18, confessed to police less than an hour after the shooting.
Defense attorney Tom Griffiths said Parker pleaded guilty “not because it was the easy thing to do, but because it was the right thing to do, not just for him but for the victims and the community. He has a lot to atone for and he had to move forward and start to do that.”
Marshall Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Foust said Parker was not eligible for life without parole or the death penalty because of his age, 15, at the time of the shooting, so “we got the maximum sentence.”
If convicted at trial, Parker could have been sentenced at most to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.
Foust said the families of the Bailey and Preston were in agreement with the plea bargain.
In part, the prosecution chose not to go to trial because the COVID-19 pandemic would have delayed it until at least 2021 and there were no guarantees it would happen then, Foust said.
“The trade off is in terms of not having to worry about appeals” or when the trial could be held, he said.
In fact, the prosecution could not even work with medical witnesses from Vanderbilt University because of the current pandemic.
Griffiths agreed that avoiding trial was best for everyone involved.
“I don’t think anyone would have been served by this case going to trial when you had someone admitting responsibility and accepting life in prison,” he said.
And Foust said of the victims, “everybody’s going to get a chance to speak at the sentencing and hopefully this will be the first chapter in the beginning of the healing process.”
Griffiths said Parker may or may not speak at his sentencing.
Asked if Parker every told him his reasoning for the shooting, Griffiths said “not that makes any sense to adults. There may be a better answer to that at sentencing, but I can’t promise you that either.”
Parker’s mother, Mary Minyard, released a statement:
“I’ve had more than two years to think about what I want to say at this moment. Two devastatingly long, cruel years to come up with the words, and I find I still don’t have them. Words are inadequate to express how deeply sorry I am for everything that has happened. 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. Most especially, my most heartfelt apologies go to those children hurt that day and their families. To the Holt and Cope families, I know there will never be words that I can say to make up for the precious lives you’ve lost, but I hope know how deeply I feel that loss and how truly sorry I am. I can only hope you all find some comfort and light in the days and years ahead.”
Gabe Parker More News
In a victory for the prosecution, a Marshall Circuit Court judge has held that alleged teen shooter Gabriel Parker voluntarily confessed to the January 2018 fatal shootings and assaults at Marshall County High School.
Judge Jamie Jameson denied a motion to suppress Parker’s statements, including one in which the county sheriff asked him immediately after the shootings if anyone else was involved and Parker replied, “No, it was me.”
Parker’s public defenders had maintained his Miranda rights were violated and the investigators also violated a law requiring the immediate notification of a juvenile’s parents that they have been arrested.
Jameson noted in his Nov. 10 ruling that sheriff’s investigators did not specifically ask if he wanted to waive his right to maintain his silence, but he said he understood his rights.
He fully confessed to the crimes within five minutes, Jameson said.
The judge said that while Parker’s mother and stepfather were not notified of his arrest for about an hour on Jan. 23, 2018, “Given the chaotic nature of that day, the time frame in which notification occurred was not only legally sufficient, but commendable.”
He said the parents were contacted before Parker was formally charged, and even if the notification law was violated, suppression of his statement is not required unless it was given involuntarily, which Jameson ruled it was not.
Parker was 16 when he allegedly shot and killed students Preston Cope and Bailey Holt and injured 14 others at the school.
His trial on charges of murder and assault will begin June 1 in Christian County, where it was moved on a change of venue. Parker, now 17, has pleaded not guilty.
At a status conference Friday, Jameson set an additional conference for Feb. 14, according to Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Foust.
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