Supreme Court Upholds Thurston High School Killer’s 112-Year Sentence

Kip Kinkel shot and killed his parents before opening fire at Thurston High School, killing two students and injuring 24 others.

Supreme Court Upholds Thurston High School Killer’s 112-Year Sentence

Kinkel had been suspended from the school for possession of a loaded, stolen handgun.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review convicted school shooter Kip Kinkel’s nearly 112-year prison sentence for killing four people and injuring 24 others.

Kinkel was 15-years-old on May 20, 1998, when he shot and killed his parents. The next day, he opened fire at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oreg., killing two students and injuring 24 others.

Kinkel, now 36, submitted his own sentence petition in early August. Two lawyers, Thaddeus Betz and Marsha Levick, also submitted a petition on Kinkel’s behalf, arguing that a May decision by the Oregon Supreme Court to uphold Kinkel’s sentence was the wrong one, reports KGW8.

The lawyers had originally argued that because Kinkel was a juvenile at the time of the killings, the Eighth Amendment prohibits a life sentence without the possibility of parole “based on a treatable mental illness that does not preclude growth, maturity and rehabilitation.”

The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that Kinkel’s crimes reflected “irreparable corruption” rather than youthful immaturity that could change over time, according to Oregon Live. The court also noted that Kinkel’s sentencing judge found he either suffered from paranoid schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

“We are disappointed that the United States Supreme Court declined to review and correct the Oregon Court’s error,” Betz said in a written statement. “We will continue to strive to bring Mr. Kinkel’s sentence in line with the Constitution.”

Kinkel had been suspended from the school pending an expulsion hearing for being in possession of a loaded, stolen handgun. Later that day, he shot and killed his parents inside their home.

The next day, Kinkel entered the school’s cafeteria wearing a trench coat, armed with his father’s rifle, two pistols and over 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

Kinkel fired a total of 50 rounds, fatally shooting students Mikael Nickolauson and Ben Walker, before being subdued by several students.

Once in police custody, Kinkel retrieved a knife he had secured on his leg and perforated the arresting officer’s lung.

Kinkel’s sentencing includes 25 years for four homicides and nearly 87 years for wounding 24 others and attempted murder of a police detective.

About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Senior Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and a handful of cousins are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband, her son and her dog.

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