A boy who was 14 when he helped throw another boy off a parking ramp to his death was properly sentenced to life in prison without parole, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday.
Omer Ninham's lawyers argued that the sentence violated the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment given Ninham's age when the crime was committed. State attorneys countered that nothing prevents such a sentence for juveniles in homicide cases.
The opinion (5-2) is here:
Ninham mounts a categorical constitutional challenge, arguing that sentencing a 14-year-old to life imprisonment without parole is cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 6 of the Wisconsin Constitution. In the alternative, Ninham seeks sentence modification on the grounds that (1) his sentence is unduly harsh and excessive; (2) new scientific research regarding adolescent brain development constitutes a new factor that frustrates the purpose of the sentence; and (3) the circuit court relied on an improper factor when imposing the sentence. We disagree with Ninham on all four grounds, and accordingly, we affirm the decision of the court of appeals.
The insufferable Bryan Stevenson says he will take the case to SCOTUS. Okay. They have to address the issue sometime. Bring it on.