Kip Kinkel Teen Killer School Shooter

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Kip Kinkel was fifteen years old when he shot and killed two students in Oregon. Kip Kinkle according to court documents brought a gun to school, Thurston High, and would open fire killing two students. Kinkle who had been suspended for being in a possession of a weapon had earlier shot and killed his parents. The shooting at Thurston High could have been much worse as this teen killer had multiple weapons on him however when his first gun ran out of ammunition he was tackled and held down by fellow students. Kinkle would be ultimately sentence to over a hundred years in prison



Kip Kinkle 2019 Information

Offender Name:Kinkel, Kipland Philip
Age:37DOB:08/1982Location:Oregon State Correctional Institution
Gender:MaleRace:White Or European OriginStatus:Inmate
Height:5′ 10”Hair:BrownInstitution Admission Date:11/10/1999
Weight:220 lbsEyes:BlueEarliest Release Date:01/21/2110

Oregon Department Of Corrections

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The Oregon Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a nearly 112-year prison sentence for Thurston High School shooter Kip Kinkel isn’t cruel and unusual punishment given the breadth and severity of his crimes.

Kip Kinkel was 15 when he killed his parents in their Springfield home on May 20, 1998, then showed up the next day at Thurston High with three guns hidden in his trench coat. He killed two classmates and wounded 24 others.

Kip Kinkel, now 35, appealed his sentence, arguing that it amounts to a life sentence without parole and violates the Eighth Amendment because he committed his crimes when he was a juvenile.

Kip Kinkel contends his long sentence falls under a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Miller v. Alabama. The ruling found that mandatory life sentences for two 14-year-old murder defendants were cruel and unusual punishment because of their age.

The 2012 decision has spurred a re-evaluation of juvenile murder sentences across the nation.

The Oregon Supreme Court, however, was unpersuaded by Kip Kinkel’s arguments.

The court found that Kip Kinkel’s crimes reflected “irreparable corruption” rather than youthful immaturity that could change over time. It noted that Kinkel’s sentencing judge found that he had an incurable illness, either paranoid schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

The court found that it couldn’t say Kip Kinkel’s sentence was “constitutionally disproportionate,” given the number of people he killed and injured.

One of seven Supreme Court judges — Justice Pro Tem James Egan — dissented.

Egan wrote that “it is difficult to comprehend how petitioner’s youth at the time of his crimes, in combination with his mental disorder, did not affect the nature and gravity of his crimes.”

The Oregon Justice Resource Center, which advocates for change in the juvenile justice system, praised Egan’s dissent.

“In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized fundamental differences between children and adults based on brain science and development,” said Bobbin Singh, the center’s executive director. “The scientific evidence is clear: all young people have inherent potential to grow and change including those who have committed the most serious crimes.”

The majority’s ruling affirms prior decisions by Lane County Circuit Judge Jack Mattison and by the Oregon Court of Appeals, which also found Kip Kinkel’s sentence constitutional.

Kip Kinkel’s attorney, Andy Simrin, said Kinkel still has paths for appeal. A federal habeas corpus case, which had been put on hold, will be reactivated. Kinkel also could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear his case, Simrin said.

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Monday marks the 20th anniversary of the Thurston High School shooting in Springfield, when teen gunman Kip Kinkel opened fire on his classmates. Two students died and twenty-five more were wounded.  The bodies of Kinkel’s parents were found in their rural home, having been murdered by their son the night before. 

Yesterday, we looked at what some survivors of that day have done since. And today, in the final segment of our three-part series, KLCC’s Brian Bull reports on what Kip Kinkel himself has been reportedly up to while serving a 112-year sentence.

To this day, many people wonder about Kip Kinkel…his activities today, as well as why he attacked his school two decades ago. Some note his parents let him go off Prozac in the months before the incident.

Others say Kinkel contended with bullying and anger issues.  Betina Lynn was a teaching assistant in Kinkel’s Spanish class.

“There were a lot of people who very often went out of their way to make him feel like an outsider, to ostracize him, to tease him, to laugh at him, to make his life really hard and uncomfortable.”

Kip’s history included counseling sessions, experimenting with guns and explosives, and being grounded for pranks. He seemed intrigued by recent school shootings in Arkansas and Pennsylvania.

Once in custody, Kinkel was interviewed by a Springfield Police detective on the attacks against his classmates, and the murder of his parents. The boy referred to voices, and his head not being “right”.

Detective Al Warthen: “So you told me that your mom gets out of the (Ford) Explorer and starts up the stairs from the garage or basement, right?”

Kinkel: Yes.

Warthen: “Do you say anything to her?

Kinkel: Yes, I told her I loved her.

Warthen: “And then you shot – 

Kip:  Yes! God damn these voices inside my head!

Warthen:  Alright, hey…Kip, settle down…

Those voices were expected to play heavily into Kinkel’s defense during the trial. But he dropped his claim of insanity, pleading guilty to 26 counts of attempted murder and four counts of first-degree murder.

Former Thurston High School vice principal Don Stone credits Kip’s sister, Kristin, for sparing Springfield a painful revisit of the tragedy.

“Previous to Kip’s trial, she basically talked him into just pleading guilty.  She felt strongly that he shouldn’t put the community through ah, in essence, a second shooting…the trial.”

On this spring afternoon, Tony McCown sits at the Thurston Fence, a concrete and tile memorial to Kinkel’s victims. He watches as current students mill on and off the campus, like he and Kinkel used to before the shooting.

“Kip was certainly one of my best friends.”

While some people have painted Kinkel as a schizophrenic youth influenced by shock rock, gun culture, and bullying, McCown says the friend he knew didn’t particularly stand out as a troubled soul.

He says he visited and wrote Kip frequently after he was sent to the MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn.  Kinkel was transferred to the Oregon State Correctional Institution in 2007. McCown says he’s only visited his friend recently. But Kip has kept busy.

“Since he’s been in prison, he’s finished a Bachelor’s Degree,” begins McCown. “He’s received his electrical license, and he’s become the prison’s electrician. He teaches yoga in the mental health ward of the prison.

“He’s got an odd, centered peace to him.”

Kinkel himself has not granted any media interviews. His sentencing remains under appeal and was recently upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court. 

However, a former inmate – who also served time for a violent offense committed while a youth – spent nearly six years with Kinkel at the state prison in Salem. 

To protect his identity, we’ve electronically altered his voice.  We’ll also call him “David”. He tells KLCC that he was struck by Kip Kinkel’s transition to a fairly dangerous place. 

“A lot of the times, other individuals, especially with high profile cases, gang members and the rest will attack you pretty quickly,” explains David.  “They’ll see it as an opportunity to score points in their gangs.

“So within the first month or so that he was there, he was attacked. Some man came behind him and struck him, hit him one or two times.  It was unfortunate, it was on the yard, and that’s usually where those attacks happen. And he handled himself well, he didn’t strike back.  Which is really the rule of the prison, you let the guards handle that.” 

David confirms that Kinkel is now an electrician at the facility.  He’s also worked in the prison library and when he’s not exercising, is a voracious reader.

“One of the first ‘connect’ books that we really read together was James Joyce’s Ulysses. He really enjoyed that. What’s another great one?  Crime and Punishment was a book we explored together. 

“So he reads a lot of poetry, he reads a lot of lit, and he’s reading it mostly not just to educate himself, but kind of understanding the broader humanity.”

Among Kinkel’s recurring visitors are ministers, suggesting he’s found religion.  David puts it this way:

“I don’t know about “religion”, I’d say “spirituality”.  And I think spirituality is part of a way to deal with sort of the moral challenges of having hurt so many people.  Any sort of tragedy like this, there’s no fixing it, there’s no repairing it.  

“And I think relying on meditation and prayer and thought towards the people who’ve have been harmed is really kind of his spiritual practice in big part.”

Kinkel says very little about May 21st, 1998, according to his friends.  McCown says that even extends to his correspondence.

“I think he’s presented it in a way that he doesn’t want to hurt anybody, and he’s cognizant that written words could hurt people. So he’s very brief and concise in his letters,” says McCown.

Whether it’s education, or faith, or meditation, and yoga, he’s taken a lot of steps to make sure he can function.  I think that living with those demons made it really hard to function for years.”

Just this month, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld Kinkel’s sentence, affirming rulings from two other courts. Kinkel’s defense is seizing upon several Supreme Court rulings in the last decade that they say can help reduce his sentence.

Portland attorney Andy Simrin says a 2012 case, Miller vs. Alabama, ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for crimes committed by juveniles.  Simrin says it’s unlikely Kinkel will survive his time.

“He’s got to live to be 127 years old which is longer than any human in recorded history has lived so far.”

Simrin says there’s a possibility Kinkel’s case could reach the nation’s highest court.

“We can file what’s called a petition for a Writ of Certiorari. It’s like an application to get the case directly into the U.S. Supreme Court. And if you’ve got a good federal issue that they haven’t written on before, then there is some chance they may be interested.”

Tony McCown says were his friend ever to be released ahead of his 112-years, there’d be hard questions.

“Do I personally think that if you let Kip out, that he’d be a risk? Probably not.  Would society be a threat to him?  Yeah, probably. 

“And then as a country, we have to consider what our incarcerated people can contribute anyway, and in a way I think Kip’s demonstrated that you can.  I think he’s having an impact inside prison in a way that most people don’t.”

And David adds that for all his exchanges with Kinkel, he’s never talked with him about seeing a world beyond prison walls.  But he understands that should Kinkel be released, there’d be resentment and fear in any community he lives in.

https://www.klcc.org/post/remembering-thurston-pt-3-look-kip-kinkels-life-behind-prison-walls


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