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Judge gives probation to man convicted of murder as a teen

September 30, 2021 GMT

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — More than 25 years after a troubled teenager fatally shot a man during a robbery at a home in Tampa, a judge said he has served enough time in prison.

On Thursday morning, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Kimberly Fernandez converted the remainder of Kyle Moran’s 40-year sentence to 10 years of probation, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Moran, who had run away from his home in Massachusetts with two teenage friends, was convicted in the 1994 death of Manuel Huerta. Prosecutors said they targeted the retired Tampa bus driver for a robbery. When he defended himself with a knife, Moran shot him, the newspaper reported.

In 2018, he was given a new sentencing hearing after a series of Supreme Court rulings that changed how the legal system treats juveniles who commit crimes. During that hearing, he described a childhood that was filled with abuse, the Times reported.

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The judge resentenced Moran to 25 years and he was released about a year later.

This year, the state successfully appealed that sentence and it looked like Moran would have to return to prison, the newspaper reported. A higher court’s order forced the judge to amend Moran’s sentence to 40 years in prison, which was the mandatory minimum. The order came with a review at the 25-year mark.

During his release, Moran lived at Abe Brown Ministries, which is a Tampa organization that helps former prisoners transition to society. He got a job with a company that installs fire sprinklers in new buildings, according to the Times.

The state ultimately decided that Moran had served 25 years in prison, which made him eligible for review, and prosecutors agreed to let him remain free until a judge could conduct the hearing.

His work supervisor and others who witnessed Moran’s transition spoke to the judge and described a man who was rehabilitating.

A prosecutor relayed the wish from Huerta’s son for Moran to remain in prison. But the state didn’t seek a return to prison.

Moran expressed remorse and told the judge he’s changed.

“I was 16 then,” he said in court. “I’m 43 now. Even if I had wanted to stay the same I don’t think I could stay the same. I’m a very different person. I’m not perfect, I make mistakes. But I like the person I’ve become.”