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Luke WOODHAM

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


The Pearl High School shooting
 
Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (16) - School shooting - Satanist
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: October 1, 1997
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: February 5, 1981
Victims profile: His mother, Mary Woodham / His ex-girlfriend Christina Menefee and her friend Lydia Kaye Dew
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife / Shooting
Location: Pearl, Mississippi, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on June 5, 1998 for the murder of his mother. Sentenced to two life sentences for the High School murders and seven 20-year sentences for his attempted murder convictions on June 13, 1998
 
 

 
 

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Luke Woodham (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".

Charges

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 home.

Details

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."

Religious involviment

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 time.

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 reform school.

Wikipedia.org


Luke Woodham

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 coat.

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 and daring."

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 conclusions."

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 him."

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

CNN.com

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 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.

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 murders.

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 done nothing."

"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 teen-age boys.

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 Woodham

CourtTV.com

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 his rifle.

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 the incident.

Reported by Court TV's Helen Lucaitis and Laura Citrin.

*****

Woodham: Demons and Breakup with Girlfriend Caused Shooting

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, Christina Menefee.

"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 courtroom.

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 Citrin.

*****

Woodham says he's "so sorry" as he is convicted again

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 school student.

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 October.

"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 case.

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 report.

CourtTV.com

 

 

 
 
 
 
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