PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Lawyers for Kip Kinkel will argue this week that he should have a new trial because he was incapable of understanding his plea of guilty to killing his parents and two high school classmates.
Kinkel, now 24, was sentenced to 112 years in prison for the 1998 killings. Last week, he was transferred from a youth facility to an Oregon prison.
On Tuesday, Judge Joseph Guimond is scheduled to hear psychiatric experts testify that when he entered the plea, Kinkel's mental health "had deteriorated so badly that he was seen curled up in a ball, hearing voices, and suffering from a panic attack," according to court documents.
Lawrence Matasar of Portland, Kinkel's attorney, said in court papers that the lawyers who represented Kinkel before the plea bargain ordered him to stop taking his medication as part of a "strategy to ensure that the state's experts observed petitioner at the height of his mental illness." He resumed taking the medication days before he was to go on trial, but at a low dosage and not in time for it to begin working, Matasar argues.
State experts are scheduled to argue that Kinkel's trial attorneys believed he was mentally capable of making the decision to plead guilty.
"Petitioner's counsel spent numerous hours interacting with petitioner, consulted petitioner's treating psychologist regarding his fitness to proceed and consulted with petitioner's expert witness," the state's court documents say.
Kinkel was convicted of shooting his parents, William, 59, and Faith, 57, in their Springfield home and, the next day, opening fire in the Thurston High School cafeteria, wounding 25 students and killing Mikael Nickolauson, 17, and Ben Walker, 16.
Just before he was scheduled to go on trial in 1999, he accepted a plea bargain, and a trial judge sentenced him to 112 years.
The Oregon Court of Appeals rejected an argument that the sentence was too severe, and the state Supreme Court let that decision stand. (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)