the killer at thurston high
Statement by Lane County Circuit Court Judge Jack Mattison

who is kinkel?
the sentencing
school shooters
placing blame

THE COURT (Circuit Judge Mattison): I'm going to start with some general remarks and proceed from there. And I guarantee you, I am as nervous as anybody in this courtroom.

Other than talking a little with the defendant, I generally do not say much during a sentencing hearing. But this obviously requires more than that, and I have put most of my thoughts in writing so that they have a little more organization than they tend to have when I do not.

I started this last weekend, and you will hear some references to things that both attorneys talked about in their statements. I have made no effort to do any editing with regard to that.

First, I would like to acknowledge again the efforts and the contributions of at least some of the people who have brought us to this point. That has to start with the attorneys themselves and the professionalism they have displayed in very difficult circumstances.

It must include Judge Brewer, again, for his settlement efforts, and also District Attorney Harcleroad for his active participation in that process.

The victims and their families have certainly played a role, as did Mr. Kinkel. His participation and agreement spared us the necessity of spending eight weeks or so of reliving the events of May 20 and 21.

The efforts of Judge Leonard and David Factor for keeping us on track and organized and orderly must be recognized, as must those of the law enforcement personnel, both seen and unseen, who have helped. And especially the Sheriff's Office transport and security deputies that have assisted us along the way.

And I also want to acknowledge the cooperation of the media and of the public generally.

Turning to the sentence itself, Article 1 Section 15 of the Oregon Constitution as adopted in 1859 stated: "Laws for the punishment of crime shall be founded on the principles of reformation, and not of vindictive justice."

On November 5 of 1996, the people of Oregon voted to change this section to its present form, which reads: "Laws for the punishment of crimes shall be founded on these principles: the protection of society, personal responsibility, accountability for one's actions, and reformation." To me, this was a clear statement that the protection of society in general was to be of more importance than the possible reformation or rehabilitation of any individual defendant.

Article 1 Section 16 states in part that: "All penalties shall be proportional to the offense." As has been indicated, I have been required on other occasions to sentence young men on murder charges. One involved a sixteen-year-old--sixteen at sentencing--who killed an 83-year-old man by hitting him in the head with a cane in the course of a burglary/robbery situation. That was Mr. Merrill. The sentence under Measure 11 was 25 years.

Another involved a young man who was, as I recall, nineteen or twenty at the time of sentencing, who suffered from schizophrenia and killed an emotionally disturbed woman in her apartment with a board in what was probably a psychotic rage. A jury rejected his mental defense and found him guilty of aggravated murder. And that was State vs. Reese.

I sentenced Mr. Reese to life in prison with a minimum term of 30 years, and noted in that judgment that he should not be released unless treatment and safeguards were in place to make sure he was not dangerous when released.

The facts of these two cases pale in the light of the facts in this case, and a sentence of 25 years or so in this case is not proportional to those sentences or to these present facts.

Based upon my experience, I believe it is highly probable that a jury would have found Mr. Kinkel guilty of multiple counts of aggravated murder and would have sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of release. Believing that, the question becomes, should the court sentence any differently, at least without some good reason to do so?

The impressive medical experts who examined Mr. Kinkel necessarily and appropriately focused on him and on his condition, rather than on what would be an appropriate sentence based upon the facts of this particular case. They generally agree that with extensive, long-term treatment, they would not expect him to be dangerous to others, but they also acknowledge that future dangerousness is difficult to predict.

Untreated, or I suppose improperly or incompletely treated, he is and remains dangerous. And as required by Article 1 Section 15, my focus must be much broader than the possible reformation or rehabilitation of Mr. Kinkel.

One of the last things Dr. Bolstad said was to the effect that there is no cure for Mr. Kinkel's condition, that he should never be released without appropriate medication and--I quote--"an awful lot of structure and appropriate support services arranged for him."

We cannot predict what advances medical science will make in the treatment of whatever mental illness he has. We cannot guarantee that he will receive the treatment these doctors believe is necessary while in prison. And Dr. Bolstad, who knows the system, was not optimistic in that regard. And we cannot guarantee that Mr. Kinkel would follow up as necessary were he released to a relatively uncontrolled environment.

Based upon the record I have heard and reviewed, I believe that Mr. Kinkel has the capacity to do those things in prison his sister said he wanted to do. He can be a model prisoner, he can help himself through educational opportunities and other opportunities afforded to him, and he probably can do worthwhile things to help others. If he chooses this route, and if medical science makes the advances the doctors expect, he may be able to make a credible case for gubernatorial clemency under ORS 144.640 and seek a commutation or shortening of his sentence upon appropriate conditions.

Given the mandatory nature of Measure 11 sentences, I do not have the flexibility to structure any kind of long-range conditional sentence, even were it appropriate to do so, and I do not believe it is.

It became very apparent yesterday that this sentence needed to account for each of the wounded, who rightly call themselves survivors, and for Mr. Kinkel to know there was a price to be paid for each person hit by his bullets.

Mr. Kinkel, would you stand, please, sir.

It's the order of this court that on

Counts 4, 5, 7, and 8 -- and those are the aggravated murder counts--you be sentenced to serve a term of 25 years each, as per the Plea Agreement, to run concurrent with one another. That's with the Department of Corrections.

On Counts 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, and 58 you're sentenced to serve a term of 90 months each, per Measure 11, as follows:

On Count 9, 50 months are to be served concurrent with the 25 years on Counts 4, 5, 7 and 8, and 40 months are to be served consecutively to that sentence.

On Count 11, 50 months are to be served concurrently to Count 9 and the other sentences and 40 months are to be served consecutively to Count 9.

The remainder of the attempted murder counts are to be served in the same way, that is, 50 months on each is concurrent with the prior counts and 40 months is consecutive to the prior counts.

The total consecutive time on the 26 attempted murder counts is 1,040 months, or 86.67 years. The total sentence by my calculation at least is 111.67 years, which is more than anyone will ever serve. I see little point in sentencing much beyond the normal lifetime.

The state has filed a restitution schedule. I have no evidence before me that Mr. Kinkel has any ability to pay any restitution, or will have any during his incarceration. By statute it would be error to impose the restitution obligation on this record. And also, by statute he is not eligible to inherit from his parents' estate, so that avenue of payment is certainly foreclosed.

You have the right to appeal. Any appeal that you file must be filed with the Court of Appeals in Salem, Oregon, within 30 days of today or you lose that right. You have the right to a lawyer to assist you, a court-appointed lawyer if you can't afford your own. And certainly talk on your lawyers in that regard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's having a seizure.

Someone call a doctor.

THE COURT: We will be in recess.


THE COURT: I understand Mr. Walker is feeling much better, and that's certainly good news. Mr. Mullen and Mr. Sabitt?


I, Eileen E. McCornack, hereby certify that I am a Certified Shorthand Reporter and Official Court Reporter for the 2nd Judicial District of Oregon; that I reported in Stenotype the foregoing proceedings and subsequently transcribed my said shorthand notes into the printed transcript, pages 1 through 10 both inclusive; that the said transcript constitutes a full, true and accurate record of the proceedings as requested, to the best of my knowledge, ability and belief.

Dated this [-] day of October 1999 in Eugene, Oregon.

Official Court Reporter
Oregon CSR No. 99-0357

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