Now 23-years old, a Broward man returned to the courthouse where he was once sentenced to life in prison for a new sentencing hearing.
The man was previously found guilty of second-degree murder for his role in the beating death of a homeless man in Fort Lauderdale in 2006. The man was 17 at the time of the incident. The trial judge in his case sentenced him to life in prison.
However, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision stated that before sentencing a juvenile to life in prison, a court must consider the accused's immaturity and inability to understand consequences. Since the court did not take those factors into account at the first sentencing hearing, a second sentencing hearing is being held.
While the judge can still sentence the accused to life in prison, they must listen to testimony and argument regarding the accused's state of mind at the time of the offense. Defense attorneys typically present this type of evidence through the testimonies of experts in child psychology.
If the judge is convinced that the accused failed to understand the consequences of his crime due to his immaturity, the judge can impose a lower sentence.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade and Broward.