JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - For nearly 20 years, Bobby McDaniel has fought for justice for the victims of the Westside school shooting.
This week, a judge ruled in favor of the victims' families. Judge John Fogleman ordered Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, to pay $150 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the families of the five victims.
After his ruling, the depositions of Mitchell and Golden, who changed his name to Drew Grant following his release from prison, were unsealed. Until that time, Golden's perspective of the shooting and the days leading up to it had not been heard.
Golden's first deposition came in April 2000 inside the Craighead County Courthouse. He would be questioned again in the same courthouse eight years later after changing his name to Drew Grant.
McDaniel told Region 8 News he's glad those records are now available to the public. Since Johnson and Golden are the only two mass school shooters in the U.S. who are not dead, the depositions might hold valuable insight into school shootings.
"To try to prevent something from happening again, the more information you have about why it happened in the first place, the better," McDaniel said. "They [the victims' families] certainly hope no other parent or spouse has to go through what they did, so the more people that can see these...if anybody is saved, it makes it all worthwhile."
McDaniel admits the families will likely never see a penny of that money, but Johnson and Golden won't ever benefit from the shooting either.
"The idea that these guys can never profit from what they did is very important to everyone involved and it should be important to everybody else," McDaniel said. "Nothing will take the grief away from these parents, but I hope it does give them some peace of mind that they didn't get totally away with it."
McDaniel said that while compensatory damages can be set aside in bankruptcy court, punitive damages cannot.
"These judgments will follow them the rest of their life," McDaniel said.
McDaniel said even though their depositions were filled with "lying" and "absolute fabrication", he does not intend to pursue perjury charges.
McDaniel said their goal to ensure Mitchell and Golden never profit from the shooting, as well as gain a better understanding as to why they did it, was accomplished.
"I hope school administrators across the country will look at it. I hope teachers will look at them. I hope parents will look at them to say are there some clues going on here that I need to pay closer attention to. Then I hope psychologists, investigators on a professional level, by whatever discipline, can see if they can form a profile as to what might be a school shooter," McDaniel said. "This was never about money for the families or for me. It was about trying to figure out why and try to find information that could help prevent this in the future. And the families wanted to know an explanation. Why did you do this? And I think they got some insight into that."
Links to those depositions can be found here.
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