Some 358 juvenile lifers in Michigan could get a shot at eventual freedom because of a June decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down automatic mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles convicted of murder. The high court, in a 5-4 decision, said such juvenile life sentences violate the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment, says the Detroit Free Press.
Keith Maxey, who was involved at 16 in a 2007 robbery in which a man was shot to death, may be among the first in Michigan to benefit from the ruling. U.S. District Judge John O’Meara is expected to rule any day on the state’s motion to dismiss an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging his sentence and the life terms handed to other juvenile killers. Defense attorneys say Maxey is among the types of defendants who don’t deserve to die in prison: juveniles only peripherally involved in homicides; under the influence of peers or adults; ill-served by their lawyers, or unaware of their own best interest in pleading guilty to lesser charges with shorter sentences.