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Oregon Supreme Court Upholds Kip Kinkel's Sentence...With One Dissenter

Springfield Police/OSCI

The Oregon Supreme Court says that a mass shooter’s 112-year sentence does not violate his constitutional rights. As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, the ruling comes as the 20th anniversary nears for the Thurston High School shooting in Springfield.

Kipland Kinkel killed four people and wounded two dozen more on May 21st, 1998.  He was sentenced a year later, receiving four 25-year-sentences for the murders, and an additional 12 years for 26 attempted murders.

Kinkel’s defense has argued that because he was a juvenile at the time, the Eighth Amendment prohibits aggregate sentences that amount to a life sentence without any chance of parole, referring to a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case, Miller vs Alabama.

But the Oregon Supreme Court countered that case didn’t address aggregate sentences for multiple crimes.  It also reasoned Kinkel’s crimes didn’t reflect the “transience of youth” but rather “irreparable corruption.” It upheld previous rulings from the Court of Appeals and the Marion County Circuit Court.

One Justice, James Egan, dissented, agreeing with the defense that Kinkel’s sentence violated his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. Justice Egan also says while Kinkel’s crimes were horrific, they were committed by a youth suffering a treatable mental disorder.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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