Kentucky school shooter ordered to serve two life sentences

BENTON, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky teen who pleaded guilty to killing two schoolmates in 2018 has been ordered to serve two life sentences.

Gabriel Ross Parker was sentenced via teleconference by Marshall County Circuit Judge James Jameson on Friday afternoon.

Parker will also receive 70 years in prison for 14 counts of assault and will be eligible for parole in 20 years, WPSD-TV reported.

Parker was 15 when he fired a handgun into a crowd of students before classes started at Marshall County High School on Jan. 23, 2018. Parker was arrested at the school and charged with murder. He later was charged as an adult.

Killed in the shootings were Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, both 15.

During the sentencing hearing, Holt's mother, Secret Holt, told Parker that she has “been given a life sentence of emptiness and sadness because of what you’ve done to my family.”

Cope's father, Brian Cope, said he misses “watching him grow up to be the fine young man he would have become. Missing out on first dances, academic awards, scholarships, driving for the first time, graduation, marriage and grandchildren. I long for those days of playing catch in the front yard with Preston. He worked so hard at baseball and he just wanted to be a good teammate.”

Marshall County Commonwealth’s Attorney Dennis Foust said the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in moving toward a plea agreement in April. He said the trial would likely have been pushed back to January at the earliest, and because of restrictions, he was having trouble lining up witnesses and medical experts. Parker pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and 14 counts of assault on April 28.

Foust spoke with Holt's and Cope’s parents about the plea deal before moving forward.

Parker told police investigators that he took the handgun used in the shooting from his stepfather’s bedroom closet, using a laundry basket to sneak it out of the room. Parker told police he had the gun in his bag when he went to school, pulled it out and began firing into a commons area.

In April after the guilty plea, Parker’s mother, Mary Minyard, said she has struggled over the two years to “express how deeply sorry I am for everything that has happened.”