Oregon judge rejects new sentence for school shooter

SALEM, Ore. — An Oregon judge ruled Thursday that a 112-year sentence is not cruel and unusual punishment for Kip Kinkel, who was convicted of killing four people and wounding 25 others as a 15-year-old high school student in 1998.

Judge Thomas Hart in Salem rejected an argument from Kinkel’s lawyer based on federal court decisions that mandatory life sentences with no possibility of parole are unconstitutional for juveniles, The Oregonian reported.

Lawyers for the state argued that Kinkel received a long sentence, not a mandatory life sentence, and the judge exercised discretion and considered Kinkel’s age.

Before trial, Kinkel abandoned an insanity defense and accepted a plea deal in the shooting deaths of his parents and two Thurston High School students and the wounding of 25 others.

He turned 31 on Aug. 30 and is being held at the Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem.

He was thought to have exhausted his appeals in state court, but his attorney, Andy Simrin, filed a petition in March for a new sentencing hearing.

Hart said the circumstances of the cases Simrin cited didn’t match Kinkel’s.

“None of them are really on point,” Hart said after brief oral arguments.

He also rejected an argument that the 87 years Kinkel got on attempted murder counts should be thrown out on the basis of a U.S. Supreme Court decision against a life sentence without parole for juveniles convicted of a non-homicide crime.

Simrin said that ensured Kinkel would be in prison until he was 102.

An assistant attorney general, Samuel Kubernick, countered that the ruling didn’t apply to a case in which a juvenile was convicted of multiple offenses with multiple victims.

He said he doesn’t think the added time for the attempted murder counts “shocks anyone’s conscience.”

Hart agreed. He said he was unwilling to consider Kinkel’s sentence for his attempted murder charges separate from the four murder convictions.

“I still have four bodies,” Hart said. “I’m not going to be the person who’s going to carve those facts out.”

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