8 Ohio men serving life without parole for homicide as teens
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
Jul. 31, 2017
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — States are taking a new look at juvenile life without parole after the U.S. Supreme Court last year applied its ban on no-parole sentences for minors retroactively and said that all but the rare irredeemable juvenile offender should have a chance at parole one day.
A look at life-without-parole sentences in Ohio for crimes committed when offenders were under 18:
Eight men are serving life sentences without parole for homicides they committed or were involved in when they were under 18, according to state prison records. Among those is T.J. Lane, convicted of killing three students in a 2012 shooting at a high school in Chardon, east of Cleveland, when he was 17.
Beyond those eight, several more are serving de facto life sentences, terms so long they amount to death behind bars.
RESENTENCED OR RELEASED:
Some of the eight have appeals pending on various aspects of their cases.
One offender, Devonere Simmonds, argues that his age entitles him to a sentencing hearing similar to what death penalty defendants receive, where inmates can present evidence.
A state appeals court said in May that failing to model a juvenile's sentencing hearing after one for the death penalty isn't enough to overturn the sentence. But the court also noted "that rigorous consideration of an offender's youth is required in sentencing a juvenile to life without parole."
At 17, Simmonds went on a crime spree that left two people dead. The appeals court left his sentence in place.
The Ohio Supreme Court last year overturned a de facto sentence of 112 years for an inmate convicted of kidnapping, robbery and rape as a minor, ruling it cruel and unusual punishment. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is pending.
The Ohio Public Defender's Office is reviewing other cases involving former juvenile offenders to see whether challenges are warranted.
Juveniles can still get life without parole for aggravated murder if they're first sent to adult court. They also can receive the sentence if the crime involves the rape of a child with other aggravating factors, but the public defender's office says it's not aware of anyone serving such a sentence in the state.
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