Texas Can't Give 17-Year-Old Murderers Mandatory Life Without Parole, Appeals Court Rules

Terrell-Maxwell-MUG.jpg
Terrell Maxwell
It took more than a year and two special sessions to do it, but last July, the Texas legislature finally provided a constitutional option for punishing teen murderers.

In Texas, 17-year-olds are treated as adults for purposes of criminal law, which previously meant that those convicted of capital murder were eligible for one of two punishments: death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. But the Supreme Court ruled both punishments unconstitutional for suspects younger than 18 -- capital punishment in 2005, and mandatory life without parole in 2012 -- so the legislature said that 17-year-olds can only be sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.

That will come in handy when Jake Evans, the Aledo teen accused of killing his mother and sister, eventually goes to trial. But what of the 17 inmates the Associated Press reports are serving no-parole sentences for murders committed between 2005 and 2009, as well as those who have been convicted since?

See also: As Jake Evans Trial Looms, Texas Has No Way to Punish 17-Year-old Capital Murderers

Texas' highest criminal court gave its answer on Wednesday. Even for teens convicted before the Supreme Court's 2012 decision, a mandatory sentence of life without parole is unconstitutional.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' ruling came in the case of Terrell Maxwell, who was convicted of capital murder in Travis County in 2007.

According to the court's summary of the case, he and some friends were "smoking weed and watching movies" when they decided to rob someone. As they waited in a car at an Austin apartment complex, Maxwell announced that he would shoot their victim if he refused to give them money, which is what happened: he fatally shot a man they found sitting in a parked van, who responded to their demands for cash by putting up his hands in shock.

Because the Supreme Court had already taken the death penalty off the table, Maxwell was automatically sentenced to life without parole.

Logically, it would seem that the Supreme Court's ruling that a juvenile's mandatory life sentence in 2012 was unconstitutional would make all such sentences unconstitutional. But as the Texas court's narrow 5-4 split suggests, it's not quite that simple.

Ultimately, the majority writes, that decision is up to the Supreme Court. But "looking into the crystal ball, we think that the Supreme Court will hold that ...[this] is a "new substantive rule" that puts a juvenile's mandatory 'life without parole' sentence outside the ambit of the State's power."

To be clear, this doesn't mean that Maxwell and other juvenile offenders can't be sentenced to life without parole. That's still a possibility, "after consideration of applicant's individual conduct, circumstances, and character." It just can't be mandatory.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
68 comments
boogerleo
boogerleo

I agree - these young murderers shouldnt be given "life without parole" - they should be executed and then deported!

dingo
dingo

An autopsy confirmed that Santander had been shot in the face, with the gun held against the surface of his skin. According to the medical examiner, Dr. David Dolinak, the bullet entered Santander's head through the upper back part of his left cheek, went through his head "in a left to right manner, going through the front part of his brain," and exited the right side of his head. Dolinak also determined "that the path of the bullet through his head was in an upward direction," meaning that "the gun was angled upwards when it was held to the left side of his face...

..Greg Karim, a firearms examiner with the Austin Police Department, testified that "a .44 caliber jacketed hollow point copper jacket fragment" was recovered from the parking lot where the van had been parked. According to Karim, the bullet fragment was consistent with Remington ammunition, specifically ".44 Magnum caliber semi-jacketed hollow point by design."...


..Jamerson testified that Maxwell had directed him to an apartment complex located off of Rutland Drive. This location was chosen, Jamerson claimed, "because that is where the dope dealers and Mexicans were...

..According to Jamerson, Maxwell told him that "if the dude didn't give him the money," Maxwell was "going to bust." Jamerson explained that "going to bust" meant that Maxwell was going to shoot the victim. However, Jamerson did not take seriously Maxwell's claim. Jamerson testified, "[W]e were all high so like it just skipped my mind." He added, "I didn't know there was bullets in the gun."..

...Dukes testified that after they had arrived at the van, Maxwell held the gun to the head of the man inside and demanded that he "give him his money." Dukes recalled, "The dude was so scared, I guess, he put up his hands, he put up his hands out of shock." According to Dukes, "[T]hat's when Maxwell shot him....

http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20TXCO%2020101112809

 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

"We found that at least seven presidents -- including some of the nation’s most admired occupants of the White House -- acted, at least on occasion, in ways that ignored specific laws or constitutional protections. It is not accurate to say, as Cruz does, that Obama would be "the first president we've ever had who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore." Presidents have done so frequently, and historians expect that they will continue to do so. We rate the claim False." ---Politifact

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

There is a common theme that runs through this blog no matter the topic  - state and local government controlled by rich, angry, white, racist homophobe religious zealots (republicans I suppose).  The default answer by this rag is:

Federal oversight needed at every turn.

West explosion; Death Penalty, HUD money, Justice Probes, 

Fracking, Air, Redistricting Oversight, Water, Journalistic Objectivity (gotcha), schools and universities etc., well you get the picture.

But what about that explosion, for instance, in New York City yesterday.  Why aren't we treated to a "West" trilogy regarding the need for federal intervention?  It appears New York City dropped the ball, two buildings were flattened and people died.  Looks like Racism to me (Harlem).

When do we get to tell those fools what to do, for their own rotten good?

ruddski
ruddski

@dingo

Looks like it was the result of the immigration requirement exemptions granted exclusively to Latinos - he didn't understand the instructions.

This is why Spanish language education should be mandatory well before legal drop-out age, so future crooks and killers can assimilate to immigration requirements just like the rest of us. Think how many Latinos lives it might save.

ruddski
ruddski

"On at least one occasion"

O is up to, I think seven or more at this point, just with his signature legislation, then there's the partial amnesty.

I find it amusing, this "everyone does it " defense from people who were busy freaking over Bush's "Imperial Presidency", "unilateralism" and other complete and utter bullshit about a guy who actually knew how to work with Congress.

But I get your point, you support lawlessness, as long as it's your guy breaking the law.

ruddski
ruddski

@holmantx

I come here for the recipes and videos.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@holmantx  There are other "rags" that you would be better suited to frequent on the internet, such as the True Invisible Empire Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nation, the Supreme White Alliance, the Old Glory Skinheads and, of course, the American Nazi Party.

ruddski
ruddski

@bvckvs

There are currently 28 states that have the same law.

Not to mention the federal government.

The only problem is, the US has a Chief Executive who determines which laws he will enforce, and which laws he will order ignored, contra the US Constitution, so the SCoTUS ruling may not mean anything on the federal level. (It probably will depend on the individual, and if he looks like the Chief Executive).

The Chief Executive, incidentally, is Christian, and was a 20-year member of a "Black Liberation Theology" church, which is considered "Evangelical".

You may now shit a brick, perfesser.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@bvckvs  

Bucky, the story isn't very clear,as to whether he means the Supreme Court of the Unit States or the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which despite it's name is the "Supreme Court" for criminal cases in Texas.


The prior cases would have also undergone an appeal for the constitutionality of the punishment.


So things change as time changes.


Two things to remember about the SCOTUS:


1) At one time Plessy v. Ferguson was the law of the land.

2) The SCOTUS is not last because it is right; it is right because it is last.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@bvckvs  do you enjoy eating shit, because your vomit a lot of it out here in the comments

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ruddski  So, which is it?  You people hate Obama because Cruz tells you he's a dictator and a tyrant.  Then Cruz tells you he's weak and feckless with Russia, and you hate him for his "weakness".  You know exactly why you hate Obama, and it has nothing to do with how he has conducted his presidency.

Just-Sharon
Just-Sharon

@ruddski And attention.   And to be annoying.  And to get the focus back on me.  Me.  Me.  To be the mega contradiction in terms of reality.  To be hypocritical while complaining about hypocrisy.  To remind everyone that sometimes I have 4 kids, sometime 2 and while my parents went to the moon it was my grandfather who created it. 


I am ruddski hear me roar.  I am ruddski the DO bore.  


But hey, I really admire him and his comments.  He is very insightful.  Some of my best friends are ruddski. 

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

Such vehemence from an 80-year-old Italian!

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Executive Orders Issued:


Reagan, 381; W, 291; Obama,172

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Ya, expaul, good one. I invoke Dred Scott too when people try to invoke the primacy of precedent or last word at SCOTUS.

ruddski
ruddski

@ColonelAngus

And, according to Harry Reid, were all liars too.

Besides, it's Obama's white side that aggravates me. People of privilege that try to fake the "I'm all down with the proletariat" bullshit are especially aggravating.

Bill Clinton is more "authentically black" than Choom-private school Barry.

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

You have a Cruz fixation, I know very little about him, I haven't paid much attention. I know I wouldn't vote for him as prez, as it would be silly to vote for a one-term ideologue senator - look where that got us today!

I don't hate Obama, I hate Harry Reid, you've got your facts confused.

I just consider Obama a terrible president for many reasons, one being his tendency to lie and demonize.. As I said, I would have preferred Hillary.

As to Russia. I think he does appear weak, but that's nothing new. I have no suggestions for how to handle Ukraine, but I think Crimea will go Russian. I frankly don't care, and it's fine with me if Obama, like Bush, works with Congress and the international community rather than talk tough then wimp out.

Now, have you discovered yet why Obamacare is essentially, at this point, dead in the water?

BTW, you have a tendency to project your emotionalism-over-logic schtick onto others.

ruddski
ruddski

@Credible

I am Legume!

ruddski
ruddski

@Credible

The kicker is, I am you!

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @LOOKatME-Rudeski @ruddski  

Sometimes, in the wee-hours when my eyes snap open and my mind races, ungoverned by daytime distractions and I contemplate the mysteries of the inter-verse, I wonder if maybe ruddski is actually not only Myrna, but also Rudeski, celebrate, NAMBLA, kisok, RT, Wylie, JimSX, guitar player, monte, PlanoDave, Kergo, scruffygeist, Observist, TPFKAP, et al . . . Morpheus to my Neo . . . .!?!?

*gaaaaaaaah*

The mind reels . . . !!! 

ruddski
ruddski

@RTGolden

There's no threat of anemia on the part of Myrna and her new paramour, that's for sure.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@LOOKatME-Rudeski  Right, and when ruddski is presented with facts he can't refute he has a big ol' hissy fit, declares everyone ignorant and stupid, takes his ball, says game over, and sulks all the way home.

ruddski
ruddski

@lookatme

How many posts will you make about me before you accuse me of making it all about me?

You'll notice the same thing I've pointed out to Myrna a couple of times - my posts are about all sorts of stuff, often actually on-topic, until Myrna starts making all her posts about ME, and none are remotely on any topic but ME.

You're the Frick to her Frack. None of your posts under your nick are concerning anything other than ME. And you interrupt my bloviating on all sorts of subjects other than ME, to tell me it's all about ME.

You're either blind, stupid, drunk, or a combination of any thereof. Now, if you keep it up, I'll do to you what I do to,Myrna - make it all about ME, post-accusation, and you can revel in your abilities to create self-fulfilling prophecy. Will you get it?

Unlikely.

I just think you want to know which Mountains I've summited, why I failed to get my glider-pilot license, and why I declined to bang your momma.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@LOOKatME-Rudeski @ruddskiThe irony in this post is almost too great to be believable.

One would almost think you are Ruddski himself  - Sort of a Schutze/Wylie thing.

Just-Sharon
Just-Sharon

@ruddski A simpleton who is a common troll who spews venom with every keystroke.  Contributes nothing.  Demands attention.  Lacks common sense.  


But hey, I love everything about his work.  Brilliant. I have many friends just like him.  Did I mention my Uncle created the sidewalk? 

ruddski
ruddski

@Credible

No, that was my great-uncle, Alton.

ruddski
ruddski

@mytopfan

Three kids. Grand-dad was a civilian engineer on the Panama Canal. My parents never went to the moon, and I've never been to your anus.

I'm glad to see I annoy you to the point that, like Myrna, it's all about ME with YOU. Emotionalism clouds judgement, makes people stupid, hence Obama.

And also, as with Myrna, I urge you to find these incidences of hypocrisy to back up your tear-filled rants, so you can accuse me of making everything about ME, while you, oddly, make it all about ME.

Have fun!

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

Do you think anyone here has ever taken any of your suggestions?

ruddski
ruddski

@Credible

I must admit, read first few words, grew bored.

One issue. Everything I claimed in my glorious Myrna-inspired brag fest is 100% factual. But wait! There's more!

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ruddski  

Gonna' have to go ahead and disagree with you, here - It is sort of amusing.


Short of outright funny, maybe, but definitely amusing.

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

He/she is too angry to pull off amusing. But at least Myrna finally found a buddy of similar capabilities. Maybe he/she feels Italians too?

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Yo, Myrna, where u watchin the parade from. Shall I bring Guinness?

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Just remember, when Dale Earnhardt died, he was one lap belt down.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ruddski  

Nuh-uh. Too wordy and erudite, and you don't give them enough credit - it is rather amusing.

My money is on a certain other poster that goes by an easily recognizable, all CAPS and classically Biblical name.

ruddski
ruddski

@Colonel

it's Myrna's.backside in. danger of smootch.

ruddski
ruddski

@LOOK

Wow, you've really gone 'round the bend, lad.

Your anger is palpable, your wit well-concealed. it's really quite laughable, what you reveal.

Just-Sharon
Just-Sharon

@ruddski MYRNAAHHHH.....Don't you see HON, he personally KNOWS everyone that has ANYTHING to do with any subject you care to have an opinion about (which for him is myopic and endless).  Therefore you Myrna will always be the ignorant and stupid one. And others who insist the sky is blue.

In addition to his vast humanitarian background, he has the inside scoop about what makes this world goes round (or does it go up and down, I don't know cause I am so fucking ignorant) in addition to his Mastered Degree from the University of Google. 


Myrna, please try and show more respect for a man has such personal insights the Governments in every land as well as other planets.  He knows about war because he has served in World War 1, 2, 3, and 7.   And I bet Miss Myrna you are so stupid you didn't even know there was a World War 3 & 7...did ya?  Now did ya?  Damn misinformed woman.  It is Obama's fault that you are unaware because he is so busy collecting guns door to door in addition he refuses to educate women because of his Communist background. 


While as a woman Myrna you probably do not understand manly things like politics, you can surely respect our man rudster for the fact that the TV series Dallas was based around a poorer version of his family as was the musical Fiddler of the Roof.  So there, put that in your dumb-dumb libtard pipe and smoke it like the freaky freak you are.  


But remember, I love this man to the core of my very fiber.  And that is a lot of core fiber.  There hasn't been a writer like the rudster since Larry Craig first started scribbling notes in airplane toliets.  Give him his due.  His due is due. 



ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

Look around, hon, "we" is "you".

Well, there's the new guy, who created a profile for the sole purpose of mimicking you.

Ordinarily, I'd suspect you've created a sock-puppet, but what makes even more sense is that it's one created by the genius-level autistic fella that goes by the nick "tdkiosk".

Great company either way, plenty enough to screw in a light bulb.

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

Koch brothers LOL. You're worse off than Ruddski imagined.

Hon, Ruddski purchased a pizza from Razorback Pizza last night, I felt like an Italian Pig as I carried it home in my cardboard box in such delightful weather!

People often mistake Ruddski for Sam Elliot, and on off days, Dale Earnhardt!

Tell me Sam Elliot isn't the most delicious man alive, and Dale isn't the best driver not alive!

Ruddski just adores mocking Myrna.

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

You get suckered. Such a lightweight.

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

But hon, I'm getting my info from Obama-supporting lawyers, Obama-supporting media "professionals".

Bet you have no idea what I mean when I say Obamacare is dead, no idea at all.

Look through your latest issue of Cosmo, see if they mention not only the old news of the mandate suspension, but the new reason for "exemption". See if they mention the Hillary papers I mention.

I'm not going to,play with you, not going to debate stuff you obviously are unaware of. You'll realize soon enough that I've been right all along. Ta ta.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ruddski  No, Skeezix.  It is the Republicans and Americans for Prosperity (Koch Bros.) who have peddling lies about Obamacare.  You are just gullible enough to believe those lies.  To wit, the Julie Boonstra great lie.

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

You really have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?

It's ok, like I said, even the State media is wishing up. You'll not have to rely on me to educate you any more.

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

It's ok hon, I don't need to bother educating you, the backlash from your trusted biased sources is building against this horrible administration - I've even posted the links for you to ignore. Soon, you'll have to stay in bed all dat with the TV off.

Incidentally, Obamacare is essentially now finished with the latest legislative adjustment by the nation's chief lawmaker. Now it's up to Hollywood and Obama's infomercial-like pleading for voluntary compliance from people who now realize what they were suckered in to.

And all this time, they KNEW it was based on a lie. All this time they KNEW it couldn't possibly work. The Hillary document dump proves it.

But, Cosmo gal, you'll be the last to know. Of that we can be certain. There is such thing as the "voluntarily low-information voter".

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

As for W:  "While president, Bush issued 161 signing statements -- that is, official pronouncements that accompany the signing of a bill into law. In addition to commenting on the law generally, signing statements have been used to document the president’s constitutional objections to provisions contained in the law, and sometimes to announce how (or whether) parts of the law will be enforced. Bush was hardly the first to issue signing statements, but he was the most prolific." ---Politifact

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Does The Boland Amendment and Iran-Contra ring any bells in that Cruz-indoctrinated "brain" of yours?

ruddski
ruddski

@Myrna

Who mentioned EOs?

How many laws did Reagan instruct the DoJ to ignore?

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Ya, bucky seemed to make a big leap, but maybe not. Sure are a lot of vengeance addled people out there, and in office.

Used Dred to amplify and make my point.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@ozonelarryb  

I thought about quoting Dred Scott, but I thought "seperate but equal"  was more appropriate in this case as it is more up to date than the 3/5's rule.


It was meant to point out that the SCOTUS does indeed change its mind from time to time.  In this case there were prior reviews that were OK with 17 yo being sentenced to life without parole, but then for some reason, SCOTUS changed its mind and Texas changed its laws so that 17 yo could serve life with parole for capital murder.


The wheels of just justice turn very slowly at times and I don't see how bucky's original post applies, hence my comment.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...