US Supreme Court ruling could affect 3 SD inmates convicted under 18PIERRE (AP) — Officials in South Dakota have identified three inmates in the state prison system who are serving mandatory life sentences for murders they committed when they were younger than 18, Attorney General Marty Jackley announced Thursday.
PIERRE (AP) — Officials in South Dakota have identified three inmates in the state prison system who are serving mandatory life sentences for murders they committed when they were younger than 18, Attorney General Marty Jackley announced Thursday.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision last month said mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juvenile homicide offenders violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The decision's impact on the South Dakota cases is unclear.
More than 2,000 people are in U.S. prisons under such a sentence. Some might win immediate release, while others still could be kept locked up for life. Judges also could impose new sentences carrying a specific number of years and a parole review.
The three South Dakota inmates serving mandatory life sentences for murders committed when they were under 18 are Paul D. Jensen, Daniel N. Charles and Jessi Owens.
The Supreme Court decision "may not impact the mandatory life sentences imposed on Jensen, Charles and Owens," Jackley said in a news release. "Courts must determine if the decision retroactively applies to juveniles previously sentenced to life imprisonment."
If the courts determine it can be applied retroactively, a separate sentencing will be required, he said.
Jensen was 14 years old when a jury convicted him of first-degree murder for the death of Michael Hare in 1996. Hare, a cab driver from Pierre, was kidnapped, robbed and killed for his fare, which totaled $36.48. Jensen also received a life sentence for the kidnapping.
Charles was 14 when a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder for fatally shooting his stepfather, Duane Ingalls, in the head with a rifle in 1999.
Owens, at age 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the 1998 killing of David Paul Bauman with a hammer. Owens and another teen went to Bauman's house to steal $9,000.