From Mississippi news sources:
JOHN FITZHUGH — SUN HERALD
2012 ruling bans mandatory life sentences for minors
JACKSON — Terry Hye Jr. was a teenager when he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole in the 2008 slaying of a father who had stopped at a Moss Point store asking for directions to a prep football game.
On Tuesday, the state Court of Appeals threw out his life sentence without parole and ordered Hye resentenced. The court upheld Hye’s capital murder conviction in Jackson County.
Hye’s age — 16 at the time of the shooting death of Michael David Porter — prompted the ruling by the Appeals Court.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2012 banned states from imposing mandatory life sentences on juveniles.
Appeals Court Judge Joseph Lee, writing for the 9-1 majority, said the attorney general’s office agreed Hye should be resentenced.
Appeals Judge Virginia Carlton, in a dissent, said the majority was ignoring a portion of the Supreme Court decision that allows judges to look beyond the crime at other factors such as a prisoner’s age at the time of the offense, the person’s background and perhaps evidence that an inmate has changed while incarcerated.
“Here, the record contains ample evidence of Hye’s maturity, deliberateness of his participation in the crime, his disdain for the law, and his disrespect for the value of human life,” Carlton said.
Carlton said those factors make the life without parole sentence appropriate in Hye’s case.
Carlton also said Hye was convicted before the Supreme Court ruling.
Hye’s trial lawyers maintained their client was in the wrong place at the wrong time and prosecutors didn’t prove Hye participated in the slaying.
Prosecutors told the jury Hye wasn’t an innocent bystander, and that Porter, a veteran Marine, could have fought off a single attacker.
Prosecutors said a group of teens attempted to rob Porter, who struggled with them. Porter and his wife had stopped at a Conoco gas station in Moss Point to ask for directions to their grandson’s football game in Pascagoula.
Prosecutors said Porter was shot in the left side as he was getting back into his car.
Two other teenagers were convicted in the case and a fourth pleaded guilty.