New Sentences for Juvenile Lifers
Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney David S. Santee has won new sentences for two “juvenile lifers” who have spent a combined 59 years in prison. Both appeared before the parole board earlier this month and, if granted parole, will likely be released in time to have Thanksgiving dinner at home.
Client L.G. was convicted of first degree murder for a crime committed when he was 17 years old. Client B.H. was convicted of Second Degree Murder for a crime committed when he was 15 years old. Both were sentenced to Life without the possibility of parole, which was the mandatory sentence for juveniles convicted of either First or Second Degree murder.
Mr. Santee filed petitions for post-conviction relief on behalf of each client, pursuant to the United States Supreme Court decisions in Miller v. Alabama, which declared that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional, and Montgomery v. Louisiana, which declared that the rule announced in Miller applies retroactively. Based on Montgomery, Santee argued, the life sentences of L.G. and B.H. were unconstitutional even though they were imposed before the Court decided Miller in 2012. A Philadelphia judge agreed in both cases, vacated the life sentences, and ordered new sentences for both clients.
At sentencing, Mr. Santee presented extensive mitigation on behalf of each client, focusing on their difficult childhoods and impressive prison adjustments. In each case, the Court imposed sentences that are below the mandatory minimum sentences that the Court would be required to impose if the crimes were committed today. L.G. was sentenced to 30 years to life and B.H. was sentenced to 28 years to life. Each client has already served more than his minimum, making him eligible for parole.