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UPDATE: Judge sentences man to life for triple murder

By: Michelle Heron Email
By: Michelle Heron Email
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) Update: June 5, 2014-

There wasn’t a dry eye in the courtroom as family members spoke directly to the man who shot three people to death in the parking lot of Hazard Community and Technical College last year.

But tonight, there’s a lingering question many are still struggling to answer.

Missy Cornett lost her husband, daughter and niece in the shooting.

She says offering Dalton Stidham the plea bargain was sparing her family from more pain.

“Fifteen to 20 years of this right here isn’t going to do anyone a favor and the state of Kentucky doesn’t really follow through with the death penalty, so he’s just going to be sitting in a cell getting fat,” Missy added.

Stidham stood silently and emotionless in the Perry County courtroom as Missy spoke directly to the man who killed her husband and daughter.

But Stidham’s silence just adds to the pain of a family that’s already searching for answers.

“I just wanted him to look me in the eye and tell me why,” Missy added.

Missy may never know why Stidham pulled the trigger that day, but now this family will be able to heal.

Perry County Circuit Judge Bill Engle ordered Stidham to serve all three life sentences consecutively.

Doug Cornett’s sister also spoke at Thursday’s sentencing.
Original story: May 1, 2014-

January 15, 2013 is the day Missy Cornett’s life changed forever.

That’s when Dalton Stidham opened fire in the parking lot of Hazard Community and Technical College.

The mother of his child, Caitlyn Cornett, her uncle Doug and his daughter Taylor were killed.

“He’s never going to get out. He can’t do it to anyone else,” Missy said.

Police say Stidham used a semi-automatic pistol that he bought from a local pawn shop just hours before he opened fire. He later surrendered to Kentucky State Police.

“We were really tight, all four of us. That’s why it’s so hard,” Missy added.

The Cornett family offered Stidham three life sentences to be served consecutively without the possibility of parole in exchange for a guilty plea. Without it, he was facing the death penalty. Stidham accepted.

“I didn’t want to feel like I was giving up on my family. But I had to look at the ones that are here and we’re still in so much pain,” Missy said.

She still struggles with forgiving the person that flipped her world upside down.

“I don’t hate him. I don’t feel hate. It’s not who I am. But I’m not at forgiveness yet,” Missy added.

She still wants to know why Stidham opened fire that night, but knows she may never get that answer.

“All the court dates I’ve shown up, he doesn’t look at me. He just looks down. But I did speak up and say the deal was more than what he deserved,” Missy said.

A judge will decide to accept or deny the plea deal at Stidham’s sentencing set for June 5th.

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