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Oregon teen who was indicted in school slayings could face life in prison

SHARE Oregon teen who was indicted in school slayings could face life in prison

Kipland Kinkel, the 15-year-old student accused in last month's deadly Oregon high school shooting rampage, was formally charged Tuesday in a 58-count indictment that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.

"Kip" Kinkel, who did not enter a plea, showed no emotion as Lane County Circuit Judge Jack Mattison listed the charges, including four counts of aggravated murder for the deaths of his parents and two students at Springfield's Thurston High School.Wearing a white polo shirt, tan pants and leg shackles, Kinkel sat through the four-minute hearing without looking back at a gallery packed with spectators, including several victims of the shooting. He said "Yes" twice when asked to confirm his identity, then was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

Mattison later set a trial date of April 6, 1999.

It was Kinkel's second courtroom appearance since he was tack-led by students in the school cafeteria after a burst of gunfire left two students dead and 24 injured. Hospital officials initially reported that 22 people had been injured, but the indictment listed two additional students who were wounded by gunfire.

Shortly after Kinkel's arrest, police found the bodies of his parents at their home. In addition, he was charged with 24 counts of assault with a firearm, two bomb-related charges, illegal possession of a weapon and theft.

Kinkel, who is being tried as an adult, faces a possible sentence of life without parole on the murder charges but is not subject to the death penalty because of his age.

"He had the life of everybody in his hands," said Nicole Buckholtz, a sophomore who was shot in the leg and attended the arraignment.

"Nothing could stop him," she said. "But now he's in court. He's handcuffed and he's scared and I like it."

The arraignment came a day after a teacher and volunteer staff member were wounded by gunfire in a Richmond, Va., high school - the latest in a rash of U.S. school shootings that has left at least 15 people dead since early 1997 and has psychologists and politicians searching for answers.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber was in Springfield Tuesday for a forum on violence and possible solutions with students, teachers and city of-fi-cials.

President Clinton, in a visit to Thurston High School last week, said he had ordered publication of a pamphlet that would list the "early warning signs" of trouble.

"We have to acknowledge the fact that what we have in America is a very small number - nobody knows how many - of kids that are really troubled and disturbed and may have a lot of rage," Clinton said.