Kip Kinkel and Measure 94


What impact would the passage of Measure 94 have on Kip Kinkel? This is a very complex question.

In voters' pamphlet arguments submitted by Crime Victims United, the father of a boy murdered by Kip Kinkel and a young girl who was shot have argued that, under Measure 94, Kinkel could be sentenced as a juvenile and released at age 21. Even if sentenced as an adult, he could be released in 10 years. These sentences are worst-case scenarios and are entirely within the realm of possibility under Measure 94.

Thankfully, we do not believe, nor have we ever stated, that these outcomes are the most likely. In order to begin to understand the range of possibilities and the complexity of the legal issues, you need to know a lot about Measure 94 and about the Kinkel case.

As of August 1, 2000, there were 13 murderers sentenced under Measure 11 who were juveniles at the time of their crime. If Measure 94 passes, all of these murderers would go in front of a juvenile court judge. The judge would decide if the murderer should be tried as a juvenile or as an adult. If the judge decides the murderer should be tried as a juvenile, the murderer would likely have a new trial. Even if convicted again, the murderer would be released at age 21 because all juvenile offenders tried in juvenile court must be released at age 21 under the provisions of Measure 94.

If you think there are no judges in Oregon who would refuse to send a brutal juvenile murderer to adult court, look into the murder of Scott Bell or read about the Dominic Holmes case.

We have been challenged for our assertion that criminals who were juveniles at the time of their crime and who are tried in juvenile court would be released at age 21. Some have said it would be age 25. However, the Measure 94 explanatory statement, which was approved by Measure 94 chief petitioner Representative Jo Ann Bowman and by Measure 94 proponent and lawyer Emily Simon, indicates that the age is 21.

If Measure 94 passes, it is probable that Kip Kinkel's lawyers will go into juvenile court and argue that he should be sentenced as a juvenile. Before Measure 11, this happened routinely. The lawyers will bring in expert witnesses who will say that Kinkel was only 15, that he had problems, that we should not seek to punish but merely to rehabilitate him.

Although there are some judges in Oregon gullible enough to fall for this, the judges likely to rule in this case are thankfully more sensible. Assume that the juvenile court judge does send Kip Kinkel to adult court for resentencing. What would happen?

Kinkel was convicted on 4 counts of murder and 26 counts of attempted murder.
For the murders, he was sentenced to 4 concurrent Measure 11 25- year sentences. Under Measure 94, Kinkel would be considered a "first-time offender", so the presumptive sentence for these murders would be 10 years, 8 years after "good time". Because of aggravating circumstances, the judge could double this to 16 years. It is possible that the judge could consider that Kinkel was not a "first-time offender" for the third and fourth murders he committed because they were committed a day after he murdered his parents. In any event, even after doubling the presumptive sentence because of aggravating circumstances, it is entirely plausible that the prison term that Kinkel would serve for the murders would be reduced.

Kinkel was also sentenced to the Measure 11 mandatory 90 months for each of his 26 attempted murder convictions. The judge ordered that 50 months of each of those sentences be served concurrently and 40 months of each of those sentences be served consecutively, after the murder sentences run out. Under Measure 94, the presumptive sentence for attempted murder for a "first-time offender" is 34 to 36 months, or approximately 29 months after "good time". Even if the judge doubled this sentence because of aggravating circumstances or did not consider Kinkel a "first-time offender" because his crimes occurred over two days, it is entirely plausible that the prison term that Kinkel would serve for the attempted murders would be reduced.

The bottom line is that, if Measure 94 passes, the dozens of families affected by Kip Kinkel's violence will first have to go through a juvenile court waiver hearing and, even if he is waived to adult court, will have to go through a resentencing hearing. Even if waived to adult court, it is entirely plausible that his current 112-year sentence would be reduced to the point where he would be released from prison at some point.

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