A U.S. Supreme Court decision that makes mandatory life sentences without parole unconstitutional for juveniles should not be applied retroactively, a divided Michigan Supreme Court said in a ruling that brought joy to some families shattered by horrific crimes, but heartbreak to others, the Detroit Free Press reports. Michigan juveniles sentenced to mandatory life without parole before the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling do not have to get new sentencing hearings, the Michigan court said, 4-3.
The ruling is a defeat for more than 300 Michigan inmates serving mandatory life sentences without parole for murders committed when they were teenagers. It was a victory for Attorney General Bill Schuette, who argued that families who went through the sentencing hearings once should not be subjected to the same trauma a second time. For survivors of Dave VanBogelen of Muskegon, who was bludgeoned to death by two teenagers in 1990, the ruling was an answered prayer. “It was a brutal and heinous crime … and they didn't care,” said Amanda McGregor, 31, whose father's two teenage killers are serving life without parole.