Oregon judge expects ruling on new Kinkel trial within 30 days:
There is more drama on the appeal of Kip Kinkel’s conviction and it’s starting to sound slightly familiar.
Two of the mental health experts involved in the case now say they should have recommended the evaluation, based on their lengthy interviews with Kinkel as a teenager.
Dr. Orin Bolstad, a clinical psychologist, and Dr. William Sack, a psychiatrist, testified Tuesday for Kinkel, arguing that he showed “classic signs” of paranoid schizophrenia, hearing voices and suffering delusions and hallucinations.
Bolstad and Sack say they believe his original attorneys should have raised the insanity defense instead of choosing the plea bargain.
Sack and Bolstad said Kinkel had become skilled at hiding his illness because he desperately wanted to appear normal and was too young to understand what was happening to him, fearing he would be labeled “retarded” — even though tests have shown him to be highly intelligent.
Kinkel’s new attorney, Larry Matasar, argued that any teenager who told doctors he was having paranoid delusions that he believed the Walt Disney Co. was trying to take over the world and that the government had implanted a computer chip in his brain — as Kinkel did — clearly was suffering from mental illness.
But his constant reference to hearing voices that made his life “a living hell” since the sixth grade should have put his attorneys and the judge on notice that a mental competency evaluation was needed, Matasar said.
“This young man was seriously ill,” Matasar said, “and it was during this time that his attorneys gave him the plea offer.”
Being able to “hide” paranoid schizophrenia reminds me of the trial of another school shooter John Jason McLaughlin. He tried arguing that he heard voices, had hallucinations, and that he could hide his illness. That jury didn’t buy it and by all accounts it sounded like the only illness he had been I’m-a-big-faker-ophrenia. Which is what it sounds like Kip Kinkel has too. Did the “voices” tell him to amass an illegal weapons cache for months prior to the murders or use explosives on animals? I seriously doubt it.
On Wednesday, the state offered testimony from a forensic psychologist, Dr. Eric Johnson, and a veteran Eugene trial attorney, Kelly Beckley, supporting Kinkel attorneys Richard Mullen and Mark Sabitt, along with the trial judge, Lane County Circuit Judge Jack Mattison.
Johnson said there was no indication from any mental health expert in the case — including the two defense experts — that Kinkel was incompetent because of his mental illness.
“In my opinion, they have presented a thoughtful and elegant theory, but they have pointed to no discernible evidence that I’m aware of,” Johnson said.
Beckley said Mullen and Sabitt, whom he has known for years, are both experienced criminal attorneys who have dealt with mentally ill clients, while Mattison took “extraordinary” steps to ensure that Kinkel understood all 58 counts of the plea bargain when it was read in court.
Beckley noted the judge said in an affidavit that he would have stopped the proceedings if he had any doubt at all about Kinkel’s competence.
The fact that this appeal is even going on is a disgrace.
The judge will rule within 30 days.