Jonesboro deposition remains sealed for now

By The Associated Press
11.12.08

JONESBORO, Ark. — A videotaped deposition of Andrew Golden, one of the two boys who killed four students and a teacher at a Jonesboro middle school in 1998, will be released only after a civil lawsuit has been tried, a judge has ruled.

State Circuit Court Judge David Burnett ordered lawyers not to disclose the site, date or time of Golden's deposition for the lawsuit. Burnett also ordered lawyers not to give out the new name Golden lives under, his address, workplace or the name of the school he now attends. His mother said Golden took the new name after being released from federal prison.

"Andrew Golden ceased to exist when he changed his name," Pat Golden testified at a hearing on Nov. 10. Her son now lives alone and attends a school, Pat Golden went on to say, without offering any other personal details.

Golden and Mitchell Johnson are named in a civil suit filed on behalf of the victims' relatives to stop the two from profiting from the slayings. Jonesboro lawyer Bobby McDaniel previously has questioned Johnson, who put much of the blame for the shooting on Golden.

The tape of Johnson's deposition was released publicly without complaint. After being served, lawyers representing Golden filed a motion seeking to keep Golden's deposition sealed from public view.

At the hearing, Pat Golden said she had heard that Johnson claimed her son urged him into the shooting. Pat Golden said her son told her he was not the leader. During cross examination, McDaniel showed Pat Golden a photograph of her son making an obscene gesture near some beer bottles. She told McDaniel that was her son and acknowledged that she knew where the 22-year-old lives now.

After the hearing, McDaniel told reporters he still thought information about where Golden lives now and what he does should be public information. "I think the public has a right to know if a mass murderer is living right next door, or dating their daughter, or working for them," McDaniel said.

In 1998, Johnson, then 13, and Golden, then 11, shot students and teachers at Jonesboro Westside Middle School after Golden pulled a fire alarm. The boys killed English teacher Shannon Wright and students Natalie Brooks, 11; Paige Herring, 12; Stephanie Johnson, 12; and Britthney Varner, 11. They wounded 10 others.

State courts later found the two boys "delinquent," sending them to a juvenile prison until their 18th birthdays. But before their birthdays federal prosecutors were able to get them sent to prison on undisclosed weapons charges until they turned 21.