York County, Pennsylvania has nine men and one teen -- 17-year-old Jordan Wallick -- serving life without parole sentences for murders they committed when they were under the age of 18, reported the York Daily Record.
In a 5-4 decision issued on June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that a mandatory sentence of life
in prison without parole for juveniles violates the Eighth Amendment's ban against "cruel and unusual
This week, York County defense attorney Dawn Cutaia asked Judge Michael Bortner to vacate
the now "illegal" life without parole sentence of Wallick and schedule a
Wallick, who was 15 when he killed a man and was convicted of second-degree murder. In May, Bortner sentenced him to
the only available penalty--mandatory life in prison without
Cutaia asked that Wallick be re-sentenced to the next available
"legal" penalty, which is 20 to 40 years in prison. Pennsylvania does not have a
sentence of life with the possibility of parole.
Senior prosecutor Lishani Sunday agreed that Wallick's life without parole
sentence, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, was both unconstitutional
However, she said neither the U.S. Supreme Court, the Pennsylvania appellate
courts nor the state legislature has provided the district attorney offices with
any guidance on what sentence former juvenile lifers should receive, reported the Daily Record.
Therefore the commonwealth remains opposed to any other sentence for
Wallick than life without parole.
Complicating matters are two other juvenile lifer cases--one before the state Supreme
Court and one ruled on last week by the state Superior Court.
Both cases had been tabled as the Pennsylvania courts waited on the U.S.
Supreme Court's decision.
The state Supreme Court now has asked the prosecution and defense in the
Commonwealth vs. Batts to file supplemental recommending "the appropriate
remedy" and "what relief, if any" the court should consider as available to
The Superior Court merely vacated the life without parole sentence in the
Commonwealth vs. Knox and remanded it to the trial court "for the limited
purpose of re-sentencing."
"It's a mess," Sunday told the Daily Record.
To read more: http://www.ydr.com/crime/ci_21148611/courts-at-loss-what-do-juvenile-lifers
Kelly Soo Park Q & A, II
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