Santa Fe Gunman Could Walk Free

Don't expect the death penalty for the 17 year old gunmen who killed 10 people and wounded 13 at Santa Fe High School on Friday, and the reason is his age, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"I am told by our District Attorney that, no, he will not be eligible for the death penalty," Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said.  "17 year olds are not eligible for the death penalty.

And the gunman could actually be a free man some day!

You can thank two U.S. Supreme Court rulings over the past decade.In 2005, the Justices in Simmons v. Missouri ruled that executing people for crimes committed while they were under the age of 18 amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, arguing that the juvenile brain at a young age is not capable of distinguishing right from wrong.

Immediately after the ruling, then Gov. Rick Perry commuted the sentences of two dozen Death Row inmates, all of whom committed their crimes before the age of 18.

Then, in 2012, the Justices went one step further.  

In Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court ruled that life without the possibility of parole, a sentence which had been approved by the Texas Legislature the previous year, was also unconstitutional for juvenile offenders.I

n in the words of Justice Elena Kagan, "mandatory life without parole for those under age of 18 at the time of their crime violates the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments."

The 17 year old gunman has been charged with Capital Murder, but the worst punishment he can receive upon conviction is life with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

That doesn't mean parole is guaranteed, but the parole board in 2058 won't be able to hold him in prison because of the seriousness of his crime, but will have to consider his life in prison when deciding parole.  That would happen when the suspect in 57 years old.


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