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

May 10, 2018

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.

Kip Kinkel in 1998, and today.
Credit Springfield Police/OSCI

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.