Ruling Could Vacate Sentence of Man Who Carried Out School Shooting Rampage in 1998

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Oregon State Correctional  Institution. Photo courtesy of Oregon DOC

Oregon State Correctional Institution. Photo courtesy of Oregon DOC

Citing last year’s Miller v. Alabama Supreme Court ruling, an attorney representing Kipland “Kip” Kinkel -- who in 1998, murdered his parents and embarked upon a shooting spree at Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore. -- has filed a petition asking a state judge to void Kinkel’s current sentence.

"He pleaded guilty and didn't try to evade responsibility for what he had done and asked for a lawful sentence," The Oregonian quotes Andy Simrin, attorney for the now 30-year-old Kinkel.

Due to last year’s landmark ruling, he is requesting that his client’s current sentence be vacated and a new sentence hearing be ordered.

On May 20, 1998 -- a day after killing his parents -- then 15-year-old Kinkel went on a shooting rampage at his high school. Before being apprehended, he killed two students and seriously wounded 25 others.

In 1999, Kinkel was given a nearly 112 year sentence, without the possibility of parole.

The Miller v. Alabama  ruling prohibits mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders; although the ruling still allows judges to sentence young offenders to life behind bars, the legal implications on discretionary life sentences and virtual life sentences -- such as the one handed down to Kinkel -- have yet to be fully established.

The petition, filed by Kinkel’s attorney in March, argued that his client’s sentence is a virtual life sentence, and that the judge who gave Kinkel the 100-year-plus sentence had acted with little discretion.

“[He] was still but a child, as defined repeatedly by Oregon statutes recognizing the special need to protect those of tender years," Simrin is quoted by The Oregonian.

Kinkel had two previous appeal attempts rejected in 2007 and 2011. A federal petition he filed in 2011, arguing that his guilty plea in 1999 should not have been accepted before he was given a mental health examination, has been put on hold while Kinkel proceeds with the new state petition.

Oregon’s attorney general is expected to respond to the appeal before the end of May.

 

 

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