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State Pushes For U.S. Supreme Court To Uphold Kip Kinkel's Sentence

As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs a petition to revisit the 112-year sentence of convicted school shooter Kip Kinkel, Oregon is imploring the justices to uphold it. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

In a brief filed by Oregon’s Solicitor General this month, the state argues that Kinkel’s constitutional rights against “cruel and unusual punishment” were not violated given the severity of his crimes…backing an earlier decision by the Oregon Supreme Court.

Marsha Levick of the Juvenile Law Center based in Philadelphia is one of Kinkel’s attorneys. She says between several high court rulings and what’s been learned about young offenders, Kinkel deserves this opportunity.

“There is an interesting issue in Kip’s case about the Oregon Supreme Court ruling that his mental health diagnosis is what really justified the sentence that he received," Levick tells KLCC. 

Credit BBC
A family photo of the Kinkels prior to Thurston School shooting.

"We vehemently disagree with that.”

Kinkel’s attorneys say he struggled with paranoid schizophrenia and depression prior to a shooting spree in Springfield 20 years ago. Both his parents and two Thurston High classmates died, and two dozen other students were wounded.

A decision might come by year’s end.

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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