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Yorie Kahl, convicted murderer involved in 1983 'Medina Shootout,' denied parole

Kahl, along with Scott Faul, are serving life sentences for the shooting deaths of a U.S. marshal and a deputy marshal outside Medina, North Dakota in 1983.

Kahl Yorie
Yorie Kahl
Forum file photo
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Convicted murderer Yorie Kahl, 63, has been denied parole by the U.S. Parole Commission. Kahl and Scott Faul, 69, are serving life sentences for the shooting deaths of a U.S. marshal and a deputy marshal outside Medina, North Dakota in 1983.

Three other law enforcement officers were wounded in that confrontation, as was Yorie Kahl.

The incident became known as “The Medina Shootout.” Yorie Kahl’s father, tax protester Gordon Kahl, was wanted for violating his probation. When marshals attempted to arrest Gordon Kahl, the shootings began. Witnesses said Yorie Kahl started the shooting.

U.S. Marshal Ken Muir of Fargo and Deputy Marshal Robert Cheshire of Bismarck were shot to death. Deputy Marshal James Hopson of Bismarck, Stutsman County Deputy Sheriff Brad Kapp and Medina Police Officer Steve Schnabel were also shot.

Gordon Kahl, who fired many shots, escaped from Medina. Four months later, he was found hiding in a house in Smithville, Arkansas. Kahl and Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Matthews fired at each other, and both were shot dead.

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“I am very pleased,” said North Dakota U.S. Attorney Jennifer Puhl, who had argued against Yorie Kahl’s release from prison. “He’s shown no remorse for his crimes, and holds the same worldview today that he did in 1983 when he committed these crimes.”

Puhl said those views are very dangerous.

“It was Yorie Kahl who fired the first shot at Medina,” she said. “He slayed two marshals and seriously injured another as he believed his father didn’t need to submit to probation authorities. Based upon some letters he had written, he still had anger about what happened, and that anger is still festering.”

If Kahl was released on parole he would have been put on probation. Puhl said because of the track record of Yorie’s father and Yorie’s comments about the federal government, releasing Yorie could have led to a violent confrontation with authorities.

“Putting him on parole was not workable because he will never submit to the authority of a federal judge and a federal probation officer,” Puhl said. “Our federal law enforcement officers will be safer now.”

Family members of the victims of the shootout are gratified with the decision to deny parole to Kahl.

“I am very happy with the decision,” said Richard Muir, son of murdered marshal Ken Muir. “It’s been a long time coming. He shot and killed all those people, and he has no remorse about anything. If he got out of prison, he might come to North Dakota and try to do something violent up here.”

“Justice is being served,” said Gary Hopson. Gary’s father, Deputy Marshal James Hopson, was gravely wounded in the shootout. He was shot in the head and suffered severe brain damage. Hopson, who died in 2004, had difficulty talking, walking or hearing.

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“I am relieved that he will remain sitting in prison. The longer the better,” Gary Hopson said. “He needs to change his heart and his mind.”

“I am very pleased to hear this,” said Joan Kowalski, daughter of James Hopson. “They knew their beliefs and what they were doing. They don’t deserve a second chance. You can’t end someone’s life and do what they did to our father and get a second chance. They changed our father's life forever. He was never the same again.”

Kahl was unavailable for comment. He will be eligible again for parole in two years.

InForum columnist Jim Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.
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