EASTERN IOWA LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES

 

SUPREME COURT SAYS JUVENILES SENTENCED TO LIFE CAN APPEAL; CEDAR RAPIDS TEEN'S SENTENCE CALLED 'CRUEL AND UNUSUAL'

THE IOWA SUPREME COURT HAS OPENED THE DOOR FOR MORE THAN THREE DOZEN JUVENILES SENTENCED TO LONG PRISON TERMS TO APPEAL THEIR SENTENCES.

THE COURT SAID FRIDAY THE U.S. SUPREME COURT RULING LAST YEAR THAT THREW OUT LIFE SENTENCES FOR JUVENILES MAY BE APPLIED RETROACTIVELY TO IOWA CASES. THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT SAID JUVENILE SENTENCES MUST BE CONSIDERED INDIVIDUALLY.

ONE OF THE CASES INVOLVES A 16 YEAR-OLD CEDAR RAPIDS TEEN ACCUSED OF KILLNG KEVIN BELL IN 2010 OVER A DRUG DEAL. A COURT SENTENCED DENEM NULL, NOW 20, TO 70 YEARS IN PRISON, MEANING HE WOULDN'T BE ELIGIBLE FOR PAROLE UNTIL HE WAS 69, AND THE SUPREME COURT CALLED THAT 'CRUEL AND UNUSUAL'.

NULL'S ATTORNEYS ARGUED THAT LENGTH AMOUNTS TO A DE FACTO LIFE SENTENCE, AND THE SUPREME COURT AGREES, SAYING THE LENGTHY MANDATORY SENTENCE GAVE THE JUVENILE NO HOPE OF RETURNING TO SOCIETY IN A MEANINGFUL WAY.

AFTER THE FEDERAL COURT'S RULING, GOV. TERRY BRANSTAD CONVERTED THE LIFE SENTENCES OF 38 IOWA JUVENILE KILLERS TO 60 YEARS.

MANY ARE APPEALING, SAYING THAT STILL EQUATES TO LIFE IN PRISON.

THE IOWA COURT IN ONE CASE REFUSES TO CHALLENGE BRANSTAD'S COMMUTATION BUT AFFIRMED THAT 60 YEARS IS TOO LONG AND UPHELD A JUDGE'S RESENTENCE OF 25 YEARS.

 

 

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