Judge sentences boy to life for Oregon school shooting
EUGENE, Ore. – Kip Kinkel, the 17-year-old who filled his journal with rage, self-loathing and fantasies of violence, was sentenced to nearly 112 years in prison Wednesday for gunning down his parents and going on a rampage in his high school cafeteria that left two students dead.
Kinkel will not be entitled to parole, meaning that unless the governor commutes his sentence, he will die behind bars for the attack at Thurston High School in Springfield.
After hearing days of wrenching statements from victims’ relatives and many of the 25 people wounded, Judge Jack Mattison said it was more important to make the victims feel safe than to try to rehabilitate Kinkel.
Before the sentence was issued, Kinkel read an apology from a small sheet of white paper.
”I absolutely loved my parents and had no reason to kill them. I had no reason to dislike or try to kill anyone at Thurston. I am truly sorry for all of this,” he said. ”These events have pulled me to a state of deterioration and self-loathing that I didn’t know existed.”
He stood with his hands clasped in front of him as the judge gave him what amounts to a life sentence. Kinkel was 15 when he went on the shooting spree in May 1998 and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.
Many victims said they were satisfied with the sentence and hoped someday to get on with their lives.
”I am so glad Kip Kinkel will be put behind the bars,” said Teresa Miltonberger, who nearly died after being shot in the head. ”If he wasn’t, I wouldn’t feel safe.”
Kinkel’s attorneys said the sentence is too harsh and they plan to appeal. ”There was some possibility of a better result at trial. We’re very disappointed,” attorney Rich Mullen said.
After being expelled from school for having a stolen gun in his locker, Kinkel killed his parents at their home on May 20, 1998. The next day he donned a trenchcoat and drove to school with three guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition and opened fire on the packed cafeteria. Mikael Nickolauson and Ben Walker were killed.
Kinkel later told doctors he had been hearing voices telling him to kill since he was 12. Experts testified he was psychotic, probably paranoid schizophrenic, and deeply depressed.
Kinkel pleaded guilty in September and agreed at the time to serve at least 25 years in prison for the murders, plus whatever the judge might add. The judge crafted a combination of concurrent and consecutive sentences that added up to 111 years, eight months.
The sentencing hearing left many still wondering why Kinkel went on his rampage.
The closest he came to explaining it himself was a note he left at home, saying his parents could never live with the embarassment of his expulsion, and a journal filled with hate, self-loathing and fantasies of a bloodbath. He wrote about wanting to blow up the school or ”walk into a pep rally with guns.”
Prosecutors discounted the effects of mental illness, saying that Kinkel had spoken often to his friends about taking a gun to school and that he had been nasty and violent since he was a little boy.
”Justice was done,” said District Attorney Doug Harcleroad. ”All of us lost something on that horrific day in May last year. In the larger community, the safety of a cherished institution, namely a school, was destroyed.”