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Westside killers back in court

By The Associated Press

This article was published April 28, 2000 at 4:18 a.m.

— Two boys who killed four students and a teacher at Westside Middle School two years ago were back in court Thursday for pretrial testimony in a lawsuit against them, their parents and one grandparent.

Parties in the suit met behind closed doors at the Craighead County Courthouse Annex in Jonesboro.

Circuit Judge David Burnett confirmed that the meeting occurred and that he has issued a gag order for the period during depositions out of security concerns. He said the public would be allowed to attend court hearings and the trial.

Andrew Golden, 13, and Mitchell Johnson, 15, were present for the day-long proceeding, along with several members of their families and more than seven lawyers.

In 1998, Golden, then 11, and Johnson, then 13, were tried in juvenile court and found delinquent in the March 24 shooting deaths that year and the wounding of 10 others at the school. Johnson admitted to the killings and Golden tried unsuccessfully to plead innocent by reason of mental problems.

Two lawsuits were filed in August 1998 in Craighead County Circuit Court by the families of the five people killed in the shootings. The suits named as defendants the boys, their parents and Golden's grandfather, Douglas Golden. Also named were Sporting Goods Properties Inc., formerly known as Remington Arms Co. Inc., and two "John Does" as successors in interest to Universal Firearms Co.

The two suits have been combined into one for trial purposes.

Golden and Johnson are being held at the Arkansas Youth Services Center at Alexander for an indeterminate period.

Copyright © 2000 Associated Press.

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