(born February 5, 1981) is a convicted American murderer, and a former
resident of Pearl, Mississippi who in 1997 killed 3 people, including
his own mother, and wounded 7. He is serving life in prison.
Murder of Mother
On the 1st of October
1997 Luke Woodham, then 16, brutally beat and stabbed his mother, Mary
Woodham to death. When put on trial in court, he claimed to have not
remembered killing his mother.
October 1: Shooting at Pearl High School
Woodham drove his
mother's car to his high school, wearing a long coat to hide his rifle.
When he entered the school, he began firing rampantly, killing his
ex-girlfriend Chrtistina Menefee and her friend Lydia Dew, and wounding
7 others before a teacher retrieved a pistol from his car and subdued
Woodham. When the teacher asked Woodham of his motive, he replied "Life
has wronged me, sir".
Woodham confessed to
shooting his classmates, but as before mentioned, he claimed to not
remember killing his mother. He pleaded insanity, but the jury rejected
the insanity defense, and instead found him guilty.
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. Defense attorneys argued in both
trials that Woodham was legally insane at the time of the slayings.
The Pearl High School shooting
was a school shooting that occurred on October 1, 1997 at Pearl High
School in Pearl, Mississippi, United States. The gunman, 16-year-old
Luke Woodham (born February 5, 1981), killed two students and injured
seven others at his high school. Before the shooting at Pearl High
School began, Woodham stabbed and bludgeoned his mother to death in his
The incident began on the morning of October 1,
1997 when Luke Woodham fatally stabbed and bludgeoned his sleeping
mother, Mary Woodham. At his trial, Woodham claimed that he could not
remember killing his mother.
Woodham drove his mother's car to Pearl High School.
Wearing an orange jumpsuit and a trenchcoat, he made no attempt to
hide his rifle. When he entered the school, he fatally shot Lydia Kaye
Dew and Christina Menefee, his former girlfriend. Pearl High School
assistant band director, Jeff Cannon, was standing five feet away from
Dew when she was fatally shot. He went on to wound seven others before
leaving, intending to drive off campus and conduct another shooting at
the nearby Pearl Junior High School. However, assistant principal Joel
Myrick had retrieved a .45 pistol from the glove compartment of his
truck and subdued Woodham inside his mother's car. Then Myrick
demanded "Why did you shoot my kids?" Woodham replied, "Life has
wronged me, sir".
Minutes before he started the shooting, he gave the
following message to a friend:
"I am not insane, I am angry. I killed because
people like me are mistreated every day. I did this to show society,
push us and we will push back. ... All throughout my life, I was
ridiculed, always beaten, always hated. Can you, society, truly
blame me for what I do? Yes, you will. ... It was not a cry for
attention, it was not a cry for help. It was a scream in sheer agony
saying that if you can't pry your eyes open, if I can't do it
through pacifism, if I can't show you through the displaying of
intelligence, then I will do it with a bullet."
On October 8, 1997 Grant Boyette, Delbert Shaw,
Donald Brooks, Wesley Brownell, Daniel Thompson and Justin Sledge were
arrested in suspicion of conspiring with Woodham to commit the
shooting. During his trial, Woodham claimed to have gotten ideas of
committing the murders by being involved with a Satanic cult. Woodham
admitted to being a Satanist, and claimed that his friend Grant
Boyette invited Woodham to join a Satanic group known as "The Kroth".
He claimed that Boyette told him that he had "potential to do
something great." Woodham said that Boyette promised him that he could
get his ex-girlfriend back or get even through black magic.
After his conviction Woodham converted to
Christianity, and said the following in a letter written to
evangelical minister David Wilkerson:
David, I receive your sermons through the mail. I
am one of the school shooters. Iím the one they blame for starting
it all off. On October 1, 1997, I went into Pearl High School and
killed two students and wounded seven. I also killed my mother
before this. After I came to jail I got saved. If there is any way
that I can help your ministry, I would love to. Maybe I could give
you my testimony. Iíll do anything to help. I look forward to your
sermons each month.
Trials and incarceration
There were separate trials for the murder of
Woodham's mother and the school shooting. Woodham's lawyer argued at
both trials that Woodham was insane at the time of the killings.
Jurors rejected Woodham's insanity defense at his first trial for the
murder of his mother, and he was sentenced to life in prison on June
5, 1998. His second trial took place on June 12, and he was found
guilty of two counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder,
with the jurors once again rejecting the insanity defense. He was
given two life sentences for the murders and seven 20-year sentences
for his attempted murder convictions. He is currently serving 3 life
terms plus an additional 140 years in prison. He will be eligible for
parole in 2046, when he is 65 years old.
Conspiracy charges were filed against Delbert Shaw,
Donald Brooks, Wesley Brownell, Daniel Thompson, Grant Boyette and
Justin Sledge, accusing them of taking part in a conspiracy to assist
Woodham in the murders. However the charges against Shaw, Brooks, and
Brownell were dropped by Judge Robert Goza "at the request of District
Attorney John Kitchens, who said Mississippi's conspiracy law would
make proving the accusations difficult." The case of Daniel Thompson
was transferred to Youth Court because he was 15 years old at the
Less than three days after his last conviction,
Woodham was removed from the Forrest County Jail in Hattiesburg. On
June 15, 1998, Woodham entered the Mississippi Department of
Corrections (MDOC) system in the Central Mississippi Correctional
Facility (CMCF) in Rankin County. While at CMCF Woodham underwent
evaluation so he could be assigned to a permanent facility. Several
weeks later, he was moved into the Mississippi State Penitentiary
(MSP) in Sunflower County. As of 2010 Woodham is incarcerated in Unit
29 of MSP as MDOC #R4682. His location last changed on June 17, 2010.
Grant Boyette and Justin Sledge still faced two
counts each of being an accessory to commit murder. Boyette was
convicted and sentenced to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at
Parchman boot camp for six months and five years of supervised
probation, while Justin Sledge was sentenced to serve four months in
On 1 october 1997, Luke opened fire on a bunch
of schoolmates in Pearl High School, killing two and wounding seven.
Luke, a sophomore, started the day by slitting his mother's throat
before heading to school in her car with a rifle tucked under his trench
Witnesses said he walked into a crowded atrium with hundreds of
students milling about and started blasting "anybody he could find."
Woodham talked to at least one of the wounded. "He apologized, said
he was sorry and was not shooting anybody in particular."
The chubby sophomore who excelled in art, was fleeing
when an assistant principal rammed his car into Woodham's mother's
vehicle to stop him. Choking back tears, Police Chief Bill Slade said
Woodham had written a detailed note saying how "he felt he'd been
wronged... I am not insane. I am angry... I killed because people like
me are mistreated every day. I did this to show society push us and we
will push back... Murder is not weak and slow-witted, murder is gutsy
Within a week of the killings authorities in Pearl
uncovered a gang of teenage "nerds" who might be implicated in
Luke's deadly school rampage.
Five of Woodham's schoolmates and a
community college student had formed a demonic cult known as "Kroth"
and had plotted the violence with enthusiasm. The group considered
themselves societal misfits, always beaten, always hated. Members of the
gang were all intellectuals who were fond of the writings of philosopher
Friedrich Nietzche and the occult.
Grant Boyette and Justin Sledge -- two members of the
Kroth -- pleaded innocent to allegations that they pushed Luke Woodham
to rampage through Pearl High.
Investigators believe the small group of
teens plotted an elaborate assault on their high school, and Luke was
chosen as the assassin. The indictment against the six teens alleges
that Boyette and Sledge met several times with Woodham to convince him
"that murder was a viable means of accomplishing the purposes and
goals of the shared belief system."
Trying to diffuse the situation, a school official
said: "There's all kinds of rumors flying around. There are some
things in this that could be considered satanic, but to jump out there
to say it is satanic, that they are devil-worshippers, is jumping to
Authorities believe the gang modelled themselves after
the "vengeful nerd" character played by Michael Douglas in the
film Falling Down. Police confirmed that they have had reports that
Woodham had been bullied at school, with classmates calling him "nerd"
and knocking books from his hands.
One of the arrested, Donald Brooks, 17, was accused of
conspiring to murder his father last spring, and a second boy, Grant
Boyette, 18, was charged with conspiring with him. Brooks's father
survived the plot, and said he tood by his son. Pearl Mayor Jimmy Foster
said police had uncovered information accused Woodham of targeting his
17-year-old son, Kyle for the "shock value" of killing the son
of a prominent local person.
The extent of Woodham's alienation was revealed
through his writings released at a preliminary hearing for Grant Boyette,
the alleged ringleader. In the text Woodham -- or as the sensationalist
press likes to call him, "Satan's Hitman" -- described how he
and an accomplice beat his dog, Sparkle, then set it on fire and threw
it in a pond. "I'll never forget the sound of her breaking under my
might. I hit her so hard I knocked the fur off her neck ... it was true
beauty," he wrote.
Boyette was charged with being the mastermind in
Luke's high school shooting spree. Apparently living two completely
separate lives -- a community college student and Baptist church member
as well as a fervent fan of Hitler. Boyette's former Sunday school
teacher described him as "courteous, engaging and sober."
Others said he prayed to Satan for power and was able to conjure up to
six different demons.
Investigators portrayed Boyette -- whom fellow
Satanist called "father" -- plotted to take over the school
and kill students and parents. According to authorities Grant lived by
the motto: "We cannot move forward until all of our enemies are
gone." Friends said he had changed in recent years and admitted
"praying to Satan for money, for power, for influence" and
once said "people would regret underestimating him and picking on
During his June, 1998, trial for matricide, Luke wept
as he watched himself on video saying he killed his mother because
"She always never loved me." According to the rampaging teen,
his mother blamed him for her divorce and problems with his brother. He
added she often spent nights away from home. "I didn't want to kill
my mother. I do love my mother. I just wanted her to understand,"
said the misunderstood teenager.
Luke claimed he was under the spell of "100,000
demons" conjured by Grant Boyette the morning he plunged a butcher
knife into his mother. "I remember I woke up that morning and I'd
seen demons that I always saw when Grant told me to do something. They
said I was nothing and I would never be anything if I didn't get to that
school and kill those people."
Woodham, who broke down in tears under intense
questioning from prosecutors about whether he had killed his mother,
said he recalled getting a knife and a pillow and walking to his
mother's room. He said he could hear Boyette's voice in his head
throughout the process."I just closed my eyes and fought with
myself because I didn't want to do any of it. When I opened my eyes, my
mother was lying in her bed."
After a five-day trial, on June 5,
1998, Luke was sentenced to life in prison for stabbing and beating his
mother to death. "I'm going to heaven now," said the
handcuffed and shackled killer as he was led out of the courthouse.
During his trial for the shooting deaths of his two
classmates, the nerd rampager rambled about seeing demons and sending
them to plague others. Onmiously, he also warned that something related
to his demons would be happening the next day in court. Woodham said
that Grant Boyette, an older friend, confided that he worshipped Satan
and asked him to join his group. Luke said he became a believer after he
and Boyette cast a spell and a teen-ager they knew was run over by a car
and killed the next day.
Woodham said he and Boyette became good friends in
January 1997, after Boyette cast a spell from a satanic book. Woodham
said he believed the spell led to a teen-ager being run over by a car
and killed. "We started a satanic group and through the hate I had
in my heart, I used it to try and get vengeance on people and do what he
told me to do."
On June 13, 1998, Luke was found guilty of killing his
two classmates. "I am sorry for the people I killed and the people
I hurt," Woodham told the courtroom after being sentenced to two
life sentences plus 20 years. "The reason you don't see any more
tears is I have been forgiven by God," he added. Woodham said his
crime was "sick and evil. If they could have given the death
penalty in this case, I deserve it."
The chubby teen killer blamed his rampage on the
influence of satanist mentor, Grant Boyette. Woodham testified that
after his breakup with Christina Menefee he fell under the influence of
Boyette who convinced him to rampage. "He told me I had to kill my
mom. He told me I had to get the gun and the car and go to school and
get my revenge on Christy and cause a reign of terror."
Teen guilty in
Mississippi school-shooting rampage
June 12, 1998
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
"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,"
"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.
Tearful Woodham: 'I'm so sorry'
On Friday, the defense rested its case after
Woodham completed his testimony. He began in a calm, restrained mood,
but, by the final minutes, he had broken down into sobs. He
apologized for his actions and acknowledged they were unjustified.
"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," he sobbed. "It
wasn't me. I didn't want to do it."
Woodham said revenge against Menefee was the
primary motivating factor behind the school shootings. He said he
was devastated when Menefee broke up with him a year earlier.
"I didn't eat. I didn't sleep. I didn't want to
live," he sobbed. "It destroyed me."
Egged on by alleged cult member
Woodham also insisted that his friend, Grant
Boyette, encouraged him to murder his mother and Menefee during more
than five hours of telephone conversations on the day before the
Boyette, 19, and several other alleged members of
a cult-like group known as "the Kroth" have been charged with
conspiracy in the school shootings.
Woodham testified that Boyette pushed him on with
insults, calling him "gutless ... [and saying that] he had never
"The reason all this happened is that I was
heartbroken," Woodham said. "I could have gotten over it, but Grant
wouldn't let me ... he told me I had to kill my mama ... I had to
get my revenge on Christina."
"I shot Christina," Woodham said. "I never really
knew why the others got shot. It just happened."
But under cross-examination, Woodham admitted
that his desire for revenge against his ex-girlfriend outweighed
Boyette's influence. When asked to explain why he did Boyette's
bidding, he replied: "acceptance."
Prosecutor John Kitchens suggested that most of
Woodham's problems -- the breakup with his girlfriend, his lack of
friends and his problems with his parents -- were common to most
The prosecution rested its case against Woodham
on Thursday morning, closing with a videotaped confession the teen
gave less than an hour after the shootings.
Mississippi v. Luke
What made Luke Woodham wake up one morning in October 1997 and go on a
killing rampage that saw his mother and two school girls murdered?
This question has haunted the residents of Pearl,
Miss. and many other victims of several separate incidents that have
involved teen-agers who have gone on shooting sprees in their high
schools over the past several months. From West Paducah, Ky., to
Jonesboro Ark. to the most recent incident at Springfield, Ore.,
shooting sprees at high schools have become all to common.
This trial out of Hattiesburg, Miss. finds Woodham,
17, accused of murder in the shooting spree that killed his former
girlfriend and another fellow student on October 1. Prosecutors believe
that Woodham participated in a conspiracy with six other teen-agers to
launch the attack on their school. The defense claims that Woodham was
insane at the time of the shootings and did not realize what he was
doing. Woodham, 16-years-old at the time of the incident, already has
been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the stabbing death of
his mother. He will not be eligible for parole until he is 65-years-old.
If convicted for murder, aggravated assault, and conspiracy to commit
murder in this separate trial he faces the same punishment.
Haunted by Demons, "Kroth" Strikes
Prosecutors say that on the morning of October 1,
Woodham beat his mother, Mary Woodham, with a baseball bat and stabbed
her to death with a butcher knife while she was sleeping. Then three
hours later, Woodham took a rifle, placed it under his trench coat and
drove to Pearl High School. Once he arrived, Woodham pulled the gun from
under his coat and unleashed a hail of gunfire that killed Christina
Menefee, his former girlfriend, a classmate, Lydia Dew, and wounded
seven other students. Assistant principal Joel Myrick grabbed a pistol
from his car and subdued Woodham at gunpoint. According to reports, as
Myrick asked Woodham why he had shot his classmates, the teen allegedly
said, "Mr. Myrick, the world had wronged me."
Days after Woodham's arrest, it was revealed that he
may not have been alone in his attack on Pearl High School. Apparently,
Woodham was the member of a satanic group called "The Kroth" with six
friends and allegedly, Woodham's attack on the high school was part of a
vague, yet larger, conspiracy to kill other members of the Pearl
community. (The other teens charged in the murder conspiracy are Grant
Boyette, Wes Brownell, Donald Brooks II, Allen Shaw and Justin Sledge.
The sixth teen-ager is a juvenile whose name has not been revealed to
the public. He will be tried in juvenile court. Boyette, who is believed
to be the mastermind of the scheme, and the other Kroth members will
face trial on a future date.) "The Kroth" allegedly also planned to
murder Brooks' father, a local firefighter.
At his mother's murder trial on June 4, 1998, a
tearful Woodham testified that he woke up on the morning of the incident
haunted by demons. These demons, Woodham said, told him that he would be
nothing unless he went to school and killed his targets. He also claimed
that he tried to resist the demons but he kept hearing his friend
Boyette's voice in his head telling him "to do something." Woodham,
however, never specifically said that Boyette told him to kill and did
not remember the actual slaying of his mother.
Uphill Battle for the Defense
Because of Woodham's alleged infatuation with demons
and voices at the time of the murders, his defense attorneys are
expected to claim, as they did during his previous trial, that he was
insane and incapable of knowing the gravity of his actions. Despite the
supportive testimony of defense psychiatrists, prosecutors at that trial
presented psychiatrists who testified that Woodham indeed was sane at
the time of the murder and that his actions were deliberate and planned.
Before trial, one of Woodham's attorneys, Leslie
Roussell, attempted to stipulate that Woodham indeed brought the gun to
the school and opened fire. This would have reduced the amount of
emotional testimony from victims at the trial and the likelihood that
the jury's emotions would be stirred. It also would have reduced the
focus of the trial to Woodham's mental state. But prosecutor John
Kitchens rejected the defense's offer, saying that he can prove his case
and that he intends to call more than a dozen of Woodham's classmates
and teachers to the stand. He also said that the victims deserve to
testify at Woodham's trial.
During jury selection, 80 potential jurors were
interviewed before a panel of nine men, six women and three alternates
were seated. Thirteen prospective jurors said they could not be fair
because they already had formed an opinion on Woodham's guilt. Only 11
people said they had head no media reports about Woodham's previous
trial and conviction. This trial was moved from Pearl to Hattiesburg
because of pretrial publicity.
Woodham has been seen carrying a Bible with him to
court during his trial. Reportedly, he has found religion during his
time in prison. No doubt, if he is convicted of two more murders for his
satanic rampage last fall, Woodham will have two more life sentences to
get acquainted with God. As he said at the conclusion of prior
conviction, it may be God's will.
School Shooting Trial Opens
HATTIESBURG, MISS., June 10 -- Testimony was
emotional in the first day of Luke Woodham's school shooting trial as
eyewitnesses to the incident relived the rampage.
Jurors heard chilling testimony from 19 witnesses,
mostly students, who described how Woodham entered the commons area of
Pearl High School on Oct. 1, 1997 and opened fire on the students in the
area. One of the most dramatic moments of the day came from assistant
principal Joel Myrick, who subdued Woodham at gunpoint after the
incident. Myrick described how he had heard gunshots that day and saw
students running as bodies lay everywhere. He said he went to his car,
retrieved his handgun, and loaded it. When Myrick returned, he waited
until Woodham exited the school and went to his car. Woodham then ran
the car into a tree. According to the witness, he then approached
Woodham, pointed his gun at him, told him to drop his weapon and exit
the car. Myrick then searched Woodham for other weapons and asked him
why he had gone on his shooting rampage.
"Mr. Myrick, the world has wronged me," Woodham
allegedly told Myrick. "And I just can't take it anymore." Then, in a
bizarre twist, Woodham reminded Myrick that he had given the assistant
principal a discount on his pizza a few nights earlier. (Woodham worked
in a pizza restaurant.)
One male student's came to the stand and suggested
that Woodham's friend (and co-defendant) Justin Sledge knew about
Woodham's plans before the shooting. This student described how just
before the incident, Woodham approached Sledge and whispered in his ear.
Then Sledge walked away, took the student with him and told him not to
look behind him, no matter what happens next. Moments later, the student
said, he heard gunfire.
Another student, Jerry Safeway, testified that he
dove to protect his girlfriend when Woodham started firing. As Safeway
lay on the ground, he felt a stinging in his leg; he had been shot.
Woodham, Safeway said, stood over him and apologized for shooting him.
He did not mean to hit him. Then, Safeway testified, Woodham reloaded
Perhaps the most emotional testimony came from a
friend of Christina Menefee, Woodham's ex-girlfriend and one of the
casualties. She described how Woodham was allegedly obsessive about
Menefee and how he became angry when she hung out with her girlfriends.
At one point during her testimony, when asked to identify Woodham and
rifle he used, the female student could not face Woodham or stare at the
murder weapon without breaking into tears. Many of the shooting victims
showed the jury the wounds they suffered.
Despite the emotion of the courtroom, Woodham
appeared stoic, staring directly at the jurors and witnesses. While
members of his family were not present in court, the mothers of Menefee
and the other casualty, Lydia Dew, sat together and consoled each other.
The final witnesses called today were three officers
who arrived at the scene and arrested Woodham. One officer testified
that Woodham appeared "excited," as if he had just won a fight after the
shooting. According to the officer, when asked why he had fired upon his
fellow students, Woodham said that he was tired of being called a "fat
motherf___er." One officer also revealed for the first time that Woodham
allegedly said he intended to kill a student named Alan Westbrook, who
apparently liked to tease the defendant.
The jury may see Woodham's videotaped confession to
police when court resumes Thursday morning. Woodham's defense concedes
that he is responsible for the shooting but was insane at the time of
Reported by Court TV's Helen Lucaitis and Laura
Woodham: Demons and Breakup with Girlfriend Caused
HATTIESBURG, MISS., June 11
-- School shooting defendant Luke Woodham took the stand against the
advice of his attorneys and told the court that his rampage was driven
by his anger over the breakup with his girlfriend and shooting victim,
"I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep...I didn't want to
live," a sobbing Woodham testified. "It just wasn't fair. She [Christina]
didn't love me."
Woodham also told jurors about his involvement with
demons and that he and an older friend of his had conjured spells with
demons. He said that he believed, despite the beliefs of others, that he
could send demons to carry out acts and talked about feeling a sense of
power with demons. According to Woodham, he has witnessed the power of
demons and seen them act.
Before Woodham took the stand, prosecutors rested its
case, but not before showing jurors his videotaped confession to police.
In the videotape, which was given one hour after the shooting, Woodham
tells police that anger motivated his shooting rampage and that he was
fully aware of his actions.
"I'm not insane. I knew what I was doing," Woodham
told police. "It's been building up for some time now, and no one at
school likes me...The world is going to hear from me now. I'm probably
going to be very famous."
In the confession, Woodham also says that he was
still in love with his ex-girlfriend; he had wanted to kill her
previously but thought that it was not the "right thing to do."
Until the videotape was played, Woodham was composed
and had stared directly at every witness who came to the stand. But once
prosecutors started playing the tape, Woodham refused to look and the
video. By the end of the tape, Woodham was sobbing loudly in the
Woodham's defense attempted to prove that he was
insane through the testimony of a forensic psychologist, Dr. Michael
Jepsen. This witness said that he believed that Woodham suffers from a
personality disorder and that despite his confession, he was insane and
not aware of his actions at the time of the shooting. (This defense
failed Woodham during his trial last week for his mother's murder. He
was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.) Defense lawyers also
called Grant Boyette, the leader of Woodham's cult group "The Kroth"
whom they believed strongly encouraged Woodham to go on his shooting
spree. However, Boyette took the Fifth Amendment because he still faces
murder conspiracy charges in his own upcoming trial.
Woodham will return to the stand to continue his
testimony when court resumes Friday morning. The defense is then
expected to rest its case, and then both sides will present closing
arguments. The jury could start deliberating by the afternoon.
Reported by Court TV's Helen Lucaitis and Laura
Woodham says he's "so sorry" as he is convicted
HATTIESBURG, MISS., June 12 (Court TV) -- A
jury took about five hours Friday evening to find Luke Woodham guilty of
two murders in his second murder trial in as many weeks.
He already faces a life sentence after being
convicted last week of killing his mother, and was given two more life
sentences for his double conviction today in the deaths of his former
girlfriend, Christina Menefee, and another Pearl, Mississippi high
The jury also found him guilty of wounding seven
other students, and he will receive an additional 20 years for each
aggravated assault charge.
Shortly before the jury began to consider his fate, a
sobbing Woodham returned to the stand Friday morning, apologizing to the
families of victims he wounded and killed during his shooting spree last
"I am so sorry. I am so sorry," Woodham said, staring
at the onlookers in the gallery. "I think everyone deserves to know what
happened, especially those whose sisters and daughters were sent to
school that day and they didn't come back...Nothing can justify the
taking of those two lives."
Despite his apology, Woodham blamed his friend Grant
Boyette for the shooting , saying that his influence inspired his
actions. Boyette, the reputed leader of Woodham cult group "The Kroth,"
still faces a separate trial for murder conspiracy.
During cross-examination, Woodham conceded a few key
points. He admitted to the prosecution that the main reason for his
shooting rampage at Pearl High School was to get revenge on his
girlfriend, Christina Menefee, for breaking up with him. When asked
whether that motivation outshined Boyette's alleged influence over him,
Woodham answered, "Yes." Woodham could not explain why he fired at the
other students. With those admissions, the prosecution ended its cross-examination,
and Woodham's defense rested.
Prosecutors closed their case by pointing out that
Woodham himself admitted on the stand that he was more responsible for
his motive in the shootings than the influence of Boyette. Woodham's
lawyers told jurors to use common sense in their deliberations and to
avoid being swept away by the heavy emotions that have pervaded the
Jurors began their deliberations just before 6:00 p.m.
ET. Their verdict was delivered by about 11:00 p.m. ET.
Prosecutors also put two mental health experts on the
stand during a brief rebuttal case to counteract the defense's claim
that Woodham was insane at the time of the shooting. One forensic
psychiatrist testified that Woodham likely had a personality disorder,
but did not seem to suffer from any form of psychosis. Another
psychologist also testified for prosecutors that during an exam of
Woodham, the teenage boy appeared to have no psychotic tendencies,
seemed coherent and had a high average intelligence.
Woodham's insanity defense may have been jeopardized
not only by the testimony of the state psychiatrists, but by his own
words, particularly his videotaped confession where he told police that
he is not insane and was aware of his actions.
Court TV's Helen Lucaitis contributed to this