Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Whether you are for against punishing juveniles, the court has ruled that underage killers deserve a second chance by providing them parole. The article below is excellent for juvenile justice class.
Justices rule for underage killers sentenced to life without parole
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
updated 2:54 PM EDT, Mon June 25, 2012
Washington (CNN) -- The Supreme Court ruled Monday that two men convicted of killings committed when they were 14 cannot be sentenced to life in prison without at least the possibility of parole.
The 5-4 ruling is a victory for defenders of juvenile offenders, affirming recent high court rulings against harsh criminal sentences.
Justice Elena Kagan said it would be wrong for states to ignore the chance that these now-adult inmates may someday be rehabilitated.
"The mandatory sentencing schemes before us violate this principle of proportionality, and so violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment," Kagan said.
Justices mull whether life without parole appropriate for underage killers
The high court in 2005 banned the death penalty for those under 18 who commit aggravated murder. Then, five years later, the justices said juveniles found guilty of non-homicides could not receive life without parole.
The spotlight has now turned on the youngest of killers and the question of whether a national consensus has developed to treat them differently regarding a lifetime of incarceration.
The separate appeals involved an Alabama boy who, with an accomplice, robbed a neighbor and then beat the man to death and set his house on fire; and an Arkansas youth who was part of a group of teens who robbed a video store where the clerk was blasted to death with a shotgun. Both defendants are now adults serving their sentences.
Both were tried and convicted as adults and received the minimum sentences allowed under state law for felony capital murder.
About 2,500 prisoners are serving life sentences without parole for crimes committed as juveniles, at least 79 of whom were 14 years or younger at the time, according to the Equal Justice Initiative, which is representing the two men before the high court.
In his argument to the court, Attorney Bryan Stevenson had urged the justices not to "give up" on child offenders, who he said are fundamentally different from adults. He said that while they must be held accountable for their actions, youths are also works in progress, emotionally and developmentally.
Stevenson said firmly that all those under 18 at the time of their crimes deserve the chance for parole someday. He said the often-terrible facts of a murder can overwhelm any mitigating factors like a defendant's age, especially for jurors who may be unaware that a young person's brain and self-control are often not fully developed, and their living environment can play a role as well.
"You would say that a person of 17 years and 11 months who commits the worst possible string of offenses -- and demonstrates great maturity -- still cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole?" asked Alito during oral arguments in March.
He wrote the tough dissenting opinion, supported by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
"When the majority of this court countermands that democratic decision (by state legislatures), what the majority is saying is that members of society must be exposed to the risk that these convicted murders, if released from custody, will murder again," said Alito, who delivered his dissent from the bench, a rare privilege typically granted in only the most contentious of cases.
Alabama Solicitor General John Neiman told the court that states deserve discretion to set punishments for the worst of offenders, even teenagers.
Complicating matters, several justices at argument noted differences between the two cases before them. Neiman said the murder committed by Evan Miller in Alabama was especially "gruesome." The boy and his accomplice had smoked marijuana with the victim in his trailer. The 52-year-old man burned to death after the mobile home was set ablaze.
In Kuntrell Jackson's case, he was outside acting as a lookout when the Chickasaw County, Arkansas, robbery took place. It was a 15-year-old boy who shot the female clerk when she refused to turn over money. The actual shooter later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
Stevenson said there was a real question whether Jackson had an "intent to kill" during the botched robbery, perhaps allowing for a lesser sentence.
But Arkansas Assistant Attorney General Kent Holt said the sentence of life without parole was still appropriate, arguing the defendant could have received the death penalty if he had been an adult at the time of the crime.
"A legislative judgment has been made with regard to drawing a baseline for all murderers, whether they are juvenile murderers, whether they are getaway drivers," Holt said. "And when you counsel or aid or do anything that gets you liability for being a capital murderer, then that is the minimum sentence" -- life without parole, with no exceptions.
The cases are Miller v. Alabama (10-9646) and Jackson v. Hobbs (10-9647).
Monday, June 25, 2012
This article shows that no matter how old the case might be it is still possible to be convicted even if the crimes is not murder
June 24, 2012
Sandusky found guilty of sex abuse
By Mark Scolforo and Genaro C. Armas
BELLEFONTE, Pa. -- For years, the children Jerry Sandusky had preyed upon kept quiet about what the former Penn State assistant football coach did to them in echoing shower stalls, empty hotel rooms and the muffled confines of his basement bedroom.
After a swift trial and less than two days of deliberations, a jury issued an emphatic verdict late Friday: Sandusky was guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse, meaning the man once considered a successor to coach Joe Paterno will likely die in prison.
The verdict is not the end of the scandal that took down Paterno and deeply shook the state's most prominent university. It will play out for years in courtrooms and through a set of ongoing investigations.
But the trial did present one piece of finality: Sandusky was taken away in handcuffs to the county jail. Sentencing will be in about three months, but mandatory minimums will keep him behind bars for life.
"One of the recurring themes in this case was, 'Who would believe a kid?' " Attorney General Linda Kelly said. "The answer is, we in Bellefonte, Pa., would believe a kid."
Sandusky, a retired defensive coach, showed little emotion as the verdict was read, giving his wife, Dottie, and family members a half-wave as the county sheriff led him away.
There were only three acquittals among the charges related to 10 victims, eight of whom took the stand to describe fondling, forced oral sex and anal rape. Many of the accusers testified that they had told no one of the abuse that dated as far back as the mid-1990s -- not parents, not girlfriends and not police.
The accuser known in court papers as Victim 6, whose mother alerted authorities in 1998 after Sandusky took her son into a shower, broke down in tears upon hearing the verdicts in the courtroom. Afterward, a prosecutor embraced him and said, "Did I ever lie to you?"
The man, now 25, testified that Sandusky called himself the "tickle monster" in a shower assault. He declined to comment to a reporter afterward. His mother said: "Nobody wins. We've all lost."
One of the three counts for which Sandusky was acquitted concerned Victim 6, an indecent assault charge. The man testified that Sandusky had given him a bear hug in the shower but at one point he just "blacked out."
The other acquittals were an indecent assault charge related to Victim 5, who said Sandusky fondled him in the shower, and an involuntary deviate sexual intercourse charge regarding Victim 2, the boy graduate assistant Mike McQueary saw being attacked in a campus shower.
That charge resulted in an acquittal because McQueary did not see penetration, juror Joshua Harper told NBC's "Today" on Saturday. But, Harper said, McQueary made it apparent he saw something "that was wrong and extremely sexual."
Almost immediately after the judge adjourned, loud cheers could be heard from a couple hundred people gathered outside the courthouse as word quickly spread that Sandusky had been convicted. The crowd included victim advocates and local residents with their kids. Many held up their smartphones to take pictures as people filtered out of the building.
Defense attorney Joe Amendola was interrupted by cheers from the crowd on the courthouse steps when he said, "The sentence that Jerry will receive will be a life sentence."
Posted by Hector at 12:21 AM
Here is an article where the prosecutor, DA, and the grand jury refuses to charge due to the nature of the incident.
June 19, 2012
Father Not Charged in Killing of Man Molesting His Daughter, 5
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SHINER, Tex. (AP) — A young Texas father who beat to death a man molesting his 5-year-old daughter will not be charged, the authorities said Tuesday as they released a 911 tape of the father frantically pleading for help before the man died.
A Lavaca County grand jury declined on Tuesday to indict the 23-year-old father in the death of Jesus Mora Flores, 47, a hired ranch helper.
Prosecutors said the grand jury had reached the same conclusion as the police after reviewing the evidence: The father was authorized to use deadly force to protect his daughter.
Mr. Flores was killed on June 9 on a family ranch so remote that the father is heard profanely screaming at a dispatcher who could not locate the property.
“Come on! This guy is going to die on me!” the father yells. “I don’t know what to do!”
The Associated Press is not identifying the father, to protect the daughter’s identity. The A.P. does not identify victims of sexual assault.
The nearly five-minute 911 call begins with the father saying that he “beat up” a man he found raping his daughter. The father grows increasingly frazzled, cursing and crying into the phone so loudly at times that the call often becomes inaudible.
At one point before sheriff’s deputies finally arrive, he tells the dispatcher that he is going to put the man in his truck and drive him to a hospital.
“He’s going to die!” the father screams.
The attack happened on the family’s ranch off a quiet, two-lane county road between the farming towns of Shiner and Yoakum. The authorities say a witness saw Mr. Flores “forcibly carrying” the girl into a secluded area and then scrambled to find the father.
Running toward his daughter’s screams, investigators said, the father pulled Mr. Flores off the child and “inflicted several blows to the man’s head and neck area.”
Emergency crews who responded to the 911 call found Mr. Flores’s pants and underwear pulled down on his lifeless body.
The girl was taken to a hospital and examined, and the authorities say that forensic evidence and witness accounts corroborated the father’s story that his daughter was being sexually molested.
Although the father was never arrested, the killing was investigated as a homicide. The Lavaca County sheriff, the district attorney and the father’s lawyer, V’Anne Huser, did not take questions during a news conference.
The authorities said the family had hired Mr. Flores before to help with horses on the ranch. He was not born in the United States but was here legally with a green card.
A public records search did not turn up any record for Mr. Flores.