Teen pleads innocent in high school shooting
Friends described him as quiet, moody
October 2, 1997
Web posted at: 4:56 p.m. EDT (2056 GMT)
PEARL, Mississippi (CNN) -- Luke Woodham, a 10th-grader
accused of shooting to death two students at his high school
and fatally stabbing his mother, pleaded not guilty Thursday
to adult charges of murder and aggravated assault.
The 16-year-old, wearing an orange jumpsuit and a
bulletproof vest, repeatedly clenched and unclenched his
right hand at the brief arraignment.
Public defender Richard Wilson entered innocent pleas to
three counts of murder and seven of aggravated assault. Seven
students were wounded in Wednesday's rampage at Pearl High
School. A preliminary hearing was set for October 14.
District Attorney John Kitchens said he was disappointed he
cannot seek the death penalty against Woodham. In
Mississippi, that sentence applies only to murders committed
in connection with another crime, such as robbery, burglary
or rape. Woodham, if convicted, could receive a maximum
sentence of life in prison without parole.
"This may be the case that gets the law changed," Kitchens
Wilson asked that a mental evaluation be ordered for his
client, but City Judge Dewey Miller said he did not have that
Assistant principal stopped fleeing teen
Authorities say Woodham, who was upset over a breakup with
his girlfriend, first killed his mother, then tucked a rifle
under his trench coat and headed for Pearl High School.
The girl he had dated, 16-year-old Christina Menefee, was the
first to fall, witnesses said, and then he started shooting
"anybody he could find."
Also killed in the rampage was 17-year-old Lydia Kaye Drew.
Mary Woodham, a 50-year-old divorced receptionist, had
apparently been slashed to death with a kitchen knife, police
said. Three students remained hospitalized Thursday.
fleeing from the high school when an assistant principal
rammed his car into Woodham's mother's vehicle to stop him.
Police say boy admitted killings
Police said Woodham gave investigators a tearful statement
admitting he had stabbed his mother to death, then used a
rifle hidden under his coat in the high school shootings.
Woodham also gave a friend a letter in which he expressed
anger, saying nobody cared about him, Pearl Police Chief Bill
Slade said. The officer said the teen showed little remorse
for the attack.
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"This was a disgruntled girlfriend-boyfriend thing," Slade
said. "We talked to the youth, he gave us a statement and
his manifesto was that he felt he had been wronged."
Kimberly Johnson, a student who witnessed the shootings, said
Woodham walked into the high school's commons area wearing a
long coat, pulled the gun from beneath it and began firing.
"He had the same expression the whole time, and he went up to
Christy, Christina and he shot her. She died instantly," she
Woodham described as quiet, moody
A school yearbook photo shows a serious-looking Woodham with
shoulder-length brown hair and wire-rimmed glasses. He was
described as a quiet, well-behaved student.
Friends said he excelled in art, was moody and had been
teased by fellow students, but was not a discipline problem.
Slade agreed. "The teachers say he was a good kid," he said.
Students were to receive counseling Friday at the high
school, which was to remain closed until Monday. Flowers and
teddy bears were left out front to honor the shooting
Correspondent Charles Zewe contributed to this report.