89.1 WEMU

Genesee Prosecutor Seeks To Affirm 23 Juvenile Lifer Sentences

Jul 22, 2016

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton
Credit Courtesy Photo / Genesee County

The Genesee County prosecutor is asking judges to make sure two dozen felons sentenced as juveniles to life without parole don’t have a chance at freedom.  That’s despite two US Supreme Court decisions that struck down juvenile lifer laws like Michigan’s.

Prosecutor David Leyton asked Genesee County judges to affirm 23 of 26 sentences eligible for review.  ACLU attorney Dan Korobkin says that’s not what was supposed to happen: 

“It makes a mockery of the Supreme Court’s decision that said juvenile life without parole is supposed to be limited to the rare individual who is just beyond any hope of every being able to be rehabilitated.”  

Korobkin points out that life without parole is a rarity in most countries.  The ACLU has filed a federal lawsuit seeking parole hearings for Michigan’s juvenile lifers. 

Leyton says his office reviewed the facts in Genesee County’s juvenile lifer cases and determined the sentence is appropriate in 23 of 27 cases.  In the other cases, he’s asking judges to impose sentences ranging from 25 to 60 years.  “I want to reiterate that each of these individuals were duly convicted of first degree murder,” said Prosecutor Leyton in a statement from his office.  “The issue now is the proper sentencing in light of the Supreme Court rulings and we have carefully reviewed the underlying facts of each case in making our decision,” he said.

Leyton said in many cases it was impossible to find relatives of murder victims to be part of the resentencing process.

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org