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Confession Played in Miss. Trial

June 3, 1998

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (AP) _ Bravado dissolved into sobs in Luke Woodham’s videotaped confession as he coolly recounted how he stabbed his mother with a hickory-handled butcher knife before allegedly going on a deadly shooting rampage at his high school.

On the tape played for jurors in court Tuesday, the 17-year-old boy matter-of-factly described placing a pillow over his mother’s head before slashing her to death. Then he broke into sobs as he told detectives why.

``She always never loved me. She always told me I wouldn’t amount to anything,″ Woodham said on the tape. ``She always told me I was pathetic and stupid.″

Jurors sat stone-faced as the tape was played, while Woodham buried his face in his hands and wept at the defense table.

The trial was to resume today.

Woodham is on trial for murder in the death of his mother, 50-year-old Mary Woodham. Prosecutors say the teen-ager stabbed her to death at their home on Oct. 1, about two hours before he used a rifle to kill two classmates and wound seven others at Pearl High School.

A second trial is scheduled next week in Hattiesburg to decide his fate in the school shootings. Both trials were moved from Pearl because of pretrial publicity. The maximum penalty he can face is life in prison.

On the video, filmed the day of the slayings, Woodham said his mother blamed him for her divorce and spent late nights away from home, out with friends.

The weekend before her death, ``I just stopped caring ... for some reason,″ he said on the tape.

``I didn’t want to kill my mother. I do love my mother. I just wanted her to understand,″ the teen-ager said in conclusion.

Jurors also heard from Detective Roy Dampier, who testified that a cut seen on Woodham’s hand after his arrest led police to discover his mother’s death. He said he asked the boy how he cut his hand.

Woodham answered, ``Killing my mom,″ Dampier testified. ``He said he killed her with a knife.″

Jurors were shown crime scene photos of the blood-spattered house, as well as the butcher knife, an aluminum baseball bat and Mrs. Woodham’s blood-soaked pillow.

The courtroom was cleared of spectators at one point Tuesday for testimony from Daniel Lucas Thompson, a 16-year-old boy accused of conspiring with Woodham and five others in the school shootings. His case was moved to youth court.

The Associated Press joined other news organizations in filing a motion to have the court reopened and transcripts made public.

Police say the seven suspects were members of a cult-like group called ``The Kroth,″ which was said to be plotting a takeover of the school. Grant Boyette, 19, was the group’s alleged ringleader.

Suggesting that Woodham may have fallen under Boyette’s influence, defense lawyer Leslie Roussell put that question to Pearl Detective Aaron Hirschfield, who filmed the video confession and took a written confession.

``I couldn’t say whether it was control. I think he (Woodham) probably looked up to (Boyette),″ Hirschfield said.

In the eight months since the Pearl High shootings, similar rampages have occurred at schools in Jonesboro, Ark., West Paducah, Ky., and Springfield, Ore.

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