Judge awards $150 million symbolic verdict in 1998 Westside school shooting | Arkansas Blog

Judge awards $150 million symbolic verdict in 1998 Westside school shooting

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THE DEFENDANTS THEN: Johnson (left) and Golden.
  • THE DEFENDANTS THEN: Johnson (left) and Golden.
Circuit Judge John Fogleman Monday entered a $150 million verdict in behalf of victims of a mass shooting in 1998 at Westside Middle School.

Bobby McDaniel, attorney for the families, acknowledged that the money would never be collected A Jonesboro Sun article quoted his news release:

"If either of them tries to sell their story for a book or movie deal, or wins the lottery, this judgment means they can't get rich without paying these families first."

Andrew Golden, then 11 and now known as Drew Grant, and Mitchell Johnson, then 13, triggered a fire alarm and then, lying in ambush, shot 15 people, five fatally, including one teacher and four children. Johnson is in federal prison on an unrelated drug charge. Golden/Grant lives in Missouri.

The Sun quoted Pam Herring, mother of one of the children killed, Paige Herring:

"This effort was never about any money for us. We had to honor our loved ones and tell the court how much it hurt to have them taken from us, even all these years later. We also hope something can be learned from their depositions which may help prevent a similar situation in the future."

The defendants didn't appear in court and made no contest of the outcome. The depositions remain under seal, but McDaniel has said he hopes to get them released to give a window on what drove their actions.

The order granted $10 million each in compensatory and punitive damages against Johnson for each of the five families and $5 million in each type of damage against Golden for each of the five families.

The two were sentenced and juveniles and released from custody after they turned 21.

Mitchell Johnson's video deposition had never been sealed, only Golden's. David Koon wrote about the Johnson 2007 deposition in a 2008 cover story, "A boy killer speaks."
MITCHELL JOHNSON: In 2007 deposition.
  • MITCHELL JOHNSON: In 2007 deposition.


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