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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Justices to Review Teen Murderers’ Life Terms

(CN) - The Supreme Court plans to assess the constitutionality of sentencing 14-year-olds to life in prison without the possibility of parole, picking up and consolidating two different teenagers' cases on Monday.

One of the teens is Kuntrell Jackson, who is serving the life sentence in Arkansas for the 1999 murder of a video store clerk. Jackson, who was 14 years old at the time, claimed he was just the lookout and implicated his two other accomplices, both juveniles as well. Prior to the murder, Jackson had been classified as a serious offender for various acts of theft.

His petition to the U.S. Supreme Court notes that the shooter was "an older boy," and claims that it is a violation of the Eighth and 14th Amendments to sentence Jackson to life in prison for his role in a "spur-of-the-moment" plot that got out of hand.

The justices will consider Jackson's case alongside that of Evan Miller, who was convicted of capital murder. At the age of 14, Miller and a 16-year-old friend robbed and savagely beat Miller's neighbor with a bat, then set fire to the victim's trailer, apparently to cover up the evidence.

Jackson and Miller's petitions both note that there are just 73 convicts serving life sentences for crimes committed at the age of 14.

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