Judge Throws the Bookbag at Kinkel

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For a kid who crumbled under the petty slights and jealousies of high school, prison won't be a walk in the park. But, of course, that may be just the point. Today, an Oregon Circuit Court judge handed Kip Kinkel a 111-year prison term; because of his status as a minor, he was not eligible for the death penalty. The Springfield teenager, now 17, was convicted on four counts of murder and 26 counts of attempted murder after spraying his high school cafeteria with gunfire 16 months ago. Kinkel also shot and killed his parents, a grisly twist in the familiar repertoire of schoolyard murderers.

Kinkel's defense lawyers initially argued that their client was a paranoid schizophrenic who was driven by hallucinations to kill, but the insanity plea was dropped in favor of a 25-year sentence for the four murders. Unfortunately for Kinkel, the judge was not in a forgiving mood. After hearing from the victims and their families, he used his discretionary powers to tack on an extra 86 years in prison, saying he felt Kinkel's potential threat to society was greater than any chance of rehabilitation. He did add, however, that if Kinkel followed through on his promises to be a "model inmate" by helping others on the inside, the judge might consider commuting the boy's sentence. So if all goes well, Kinkel could, in theory, be out just in time to attend his 50th high school reunion.