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Killings said to have been inspired by Leonardo DiCaprio film The Basketball Diaries spotlighted on CopyCat Killers

Leonardo DiCaprio smoking a cigarette in The Basketball Diaries from this week's CopyCat Killers on REELZChannel
A still of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries from this week’s CopyCat Killers on REELZ

A high-school shooting claimed to have been inspired by a scene from Leonardo DiCaprio film The Basketball Diaries is spotlighted tonight on REELZChannel documentary series CopyCat Killers.

The shooting at Heath High School in West Paducah, Kentucky, in December 1997 saw 14-year-old Michael Carneal shoot dead three students and injure five others.

It was later claimed he may have been inspired from a dream-sequence scene from 1995 film The Basketball Diaries in which DiCaprio’s character Jim Carroll shoots students at his school.

In 1999 the parents of the three victims, Nicole Hadley, 14, Jessica James, 17, and Kayce Steger, 15, filed a $33million lawsuit against the makers and distributors of the film and other media firms.

They claimed violence in the film as well as in several computer games and on pornography sites inspired Carneal and should be held responsible for the deaths.

The case was dismissed in 2001 where it was ruled that the link was “too far a leap”.

Carneal pleaded guilty but mentally ill in 1998 to nine charges including three counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole only after 25 years.

Watch a clip from the CopyCat Killers episode below, which includes interviews with experts as well as witnesses to the shootings, and includes recreations of the tragic events…

CopyCat Killers airs Saturdays at 10pm ET/PT on REELZChannel.

Julian is the editor of Monsters & Critics. He has worked as more

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