A North Carolina man convicted of actions that scared a grandmother to death will get a second chance before the Supreme Court, McClatchy Newspapers reports. In a legal long shot, Larry Whitfield beat the odds by convincing the high court to reconsider his case. If Whitfield, 26, wins, he could regain his freedom earlier. He could also help clarify federal law. The Supreme Court get 9,000 petitions annually, and agrees to hear about 75.
The actions Whitfield took before the 2008 death of Mary Parnell, 79, will be in the spotlight. The statute in question penalizes more severely a bank robber who “forces any person to accompany him” during the crime or while fleeing. While a standard bank robbery conviction can be punished with a term of up to 20 years, but no mandatory minimum, conviction on the forced-movement statute brings a minimum sentence of 10 years and a possible maximum of life. The dispute is over how significant this forced-movement must be, and whether it includes minimal movement of the victim.