Kinkel v. PerssonAnnotate this Case
Petitioner Kipland Kinkel pled guilty to four counts of murder and 25 counts of attempted murder, and pled no contest to a twenty-sixth count of attempted murder. On May 20, 1998, when petitioner was 15 years old, he was sent home from high school for bringing a gun to school. Later that day, he shot his father once in the head. Afterwards, he shot his mother five times in the head and once in the heart. He went to school the following day and shot and killed two students and wounded dozens more. In this post-conviction proceeding, petitioner argued that, because he was a juvenile when he committed his crimes, the Eighth Amendment prohibited the imposition of an aggregate sentence that was the functional equivalent of a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Petitioner’s federal argument entails primarily three issues: (1) whether, as a matter of state law, petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim was procedurally barred; (2) if it was, whether Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S Ct 718 (2016), required the Oregon Supreme Court to reach petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim despite the existence of that state procedural bar; and (3) if petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim was not procedurally barred, whether and how Miller v. Alabama, 567 US 460 (2012), applied when a court imposed an aggregate sentence for multiple crimes committed by a juvenile. The Oregon Supreme Court held that, even if ORS 138.550(2) did not pose a procedural bar to petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim, his claim failed on the merits. The Oregon Court concluded that the facts in this case, coupled with the sentencing court’s findings, brought petitioner within the narrow class of juveniles who, as Miller recognized, could be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.