POLK PROSECUTORS UNSURE OF IMPACT Mandatory life sentences for juveniles banned by Jason Geary

Posted: July 1, 2012 in News and politics

Local prosecutors said it is unclear how many Polk County murder cases will be impacted by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles.

The court’s ruling Monday included juveniles who were convicted of murder.

A cursory review of past first-degree murder cases shows at least four Polk defendants are serving life sentences after having killed when they were juveniles.

Harry Lee Davis Jr. fatally shot his father and stepmother at their Lake Wales home in August 1996. Davis was 17 at the time.

At Davis’ trial, his lawyer argued the teen suffered repeated abuse at the hands of his father.

Three Polk County defendants – Sylathum Streeter of Dundee, and Victor Lester and Curtis Shuler Jr., both of Haines City – also are serving life sentences.

The trio were convicted on charges of first-degree murder stemming from a 1998 crime rampage that left two people dead and others injured in northeastern Polk County.

There also could be second-degree murder cases in which juvenile defendants received life imprisonment, and those could be impacted by Monday’s decision.

But how many remains unknown.

It is also unclear how court officials will address changing the punishments in such cases to mesh with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.

“At this point, many questions remain as to what the procedures will be needed to respond to the court’s opinion,” said Chip Thullbery, a spokesman with the State Attorney’s Office for the 10th Judicial Circuit.

The circuit’s public defender, J. Marion Moorman, applauded the court’s decision, saying children should be “given some glimmer of a future” rather than mandatory life sentences.

“We know from science that is evolving that the brain is not fully formed (at young ages),” Moorman said.

“Younger people tend to be impulsive and not connect consequences with impulsive acts. So something that is done at 15 or 16 years of age is not the same sort of thing that a more sophisticated person would do in their 20s or 30s after some mature reflection.”

The justices, by a 5-4 vote, ruled that imposing mandatory life sentences without parole on those younger than 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

The decision specifically addressed “mandatory” life sentences for juveniles but doesn’t appear to rule out such punishment on a case-by-case basis.

news@newschief.com

<!–Local prosecutors said it is unclear how many Polk County murder cases will be impacted by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling banning mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles.

The court's ruling Monday included juveniles who were convicted of murder.

A cursory review of past first-degree murder cases shows at least four Polk defendants are serving life sentences after having killed when they were juveniles.

Harry Lee Davis Jr. fatally shot his father and stepmother at their Lake Wales home in August 1996. Davis was 17 at the time.

At Davis' trial, his lawyer argued the teen suffered repeated abuse at the hands of his father.

Three Polk County defendants – Sylathum Streeter of Dundee, and Victor Lester and Curtis Shuler Jr., both of Haines City – also are serving life sentences.

The trio were convicted on charges of first-degree murder stemming from a 1998 crime rampage that left two people dead and others injured in northeastern Polk County.

There also could be second-degree murder cases in which juvenile defendants received life imprisonment, and those could be impacted by Monday's decision.

But how many remains unknown.

It is also unclear how court officials will address changing the punishments in such cases to mesh with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.

"At this point, many questions remain as to what the procedures will be needed to respond to the court's opinion," said Chip Thullbery, a spokesman with the State Attorney's Office for the 10th Judicial Circuit.

The circuit's public defender, J. Marion Moorman, applauded the court's decision, saying children should be "given some glimmer of a future" rather than mandatory life sentences.

"We know from science that is evolving that the brain is not fully formed (at young ages)," Moorman said.

"Younger people tend to be impulsive and not connect consequences with impulsive acts. So something that is done at 15 or 16 years of age is not the same sort of thing that a more sophisticated person would do in their 20s or 30s after some mature reflection."

The justices, by a 5-4 vote, ruled that imposing mandatory life sentences without parole on those younger than 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment's ban against "cruel and unusual punishment."

The decision specifically addressed "mandatory" life sentences for juveniles but doesn't appear to rule out such punishment on a case-by-case basis.

news@newschief.com

%
–>

This story appeared in print on page A3


Quantcast

Copyright © 2012 NewsChief.com — All rights reserved. Restricted use only

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s