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June 12, 1998
HATTIESBURG, Mississippi (CNN) — Rejecting an insanity defense, a Mississippi jury found 17-year-old Luke Woodham guilty Friday night of two counts of murder and seven counts of aggravated assault for a shooting spree last October at Pearl High School.
Woodham was accused of killing two classmates — ex-girlfriend Christina Menefee, 16, and her friend Lydia Dew, 17 — and wounding seven others during the attack, the first of a series of deadly mass shootings at U.S. schools. Jurors deliberated about five hours before returning their verdict.
Judge Samac Richardson immediately sentenced Woodham to two consecutive life sentences for the murder convictions and seven 20-year sentences for the aggravated assault convictions.
After being sentenced, Woodham spoke briefly to the court.
“I am sorry for the people I killed and hurt. The reason you see no tears anymore is because I’ve been forgiven by God,” Woodham said.
“If they could have given the death penalty in this case, I deserve it.”
The mother of one of the girls stood up in court and said, “You have stolen from me. … You have stolen any chance I will ever (have) to hold grandchildren.”
Last week, a separate jury in Philadelphia, Mississippi, convicted Woodham of murdering his mother, 50-year-old Mary Woodham, who was beaten and stabbed. He was sentenced to life in prison for that killing, which prosecutors say happened several hours before the attack at Pearl High.
Woodham confessed to shooting his classmates, but said he did not remember killing his mother. Defense attorneys argued in both trials that Woodham was legally insane at the time of the slayings. The school-shootings trial began Tuesday.
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by Joseph A. Lieberman
“Published reports claimed Luke Woodham was on Prozac”.