Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Justice, or Not, in NW Florida

UPDATE IV: The Supreme Court accepted the case and will consider whether sentencing a juvenile to life without the possibility of parole is cruel and unusual punishment. Read The New York Times, Justices Agree to Take Up Sentencing for Young Offenders.

UPDATE III: Also read a recent update on the King boys at Pensacola News Journal, Derek King nears release.

UPDATE II: For more about the case, read Pensacola News Journal, Cruel and unusual sentence? Unlike The New York Times article, the PNJ article discusses Sullivan's criminal and behavioral history, which included a "long criminal record" for among other things, an assault on a counselor at the Lakeview Center and killing a dog during a burglary.

UPDATE: Remember, a person is not guilty just because of an arrest, or even after a jury verdict of guilt. Listen or read NPR, Family Of Man Cleared By DNA Still Seeks Justice. You might also read John Grisham, The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town.

Justice is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, fairness and equity.

So read The New York Times, Defining ‘Cruel and Unusual’ When Offender Is 13.

Then compare Joe Sullivan's case with that of the King boys.

Alex and Derek King were 12-and-13-years-old, respectively, when they killed their father on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, 2001, with a baseball bat, in his Cantonment home near Pensacola, then set the house afire.

After the boys were convicted of second-degree murder, for which they could have been sentenced to 22 years to life in prison, an Escambia County Circuit Court granted a motion to throw out the convictions and ordered mediation. Yes, mediation in a murder case.

After a week of mediation the State agreed that in exchange for a plea to third-degree murder, Alex would serve seven years in prison and Derek would serve eight years.

After the case the court-appointed mediator, Bill Eddins, an attorney in private practice at the time, said the plea deal was intended to provide structure for the boys, whose mother left them when they were young. He is quoted as saying "They have had instability in their life, it became very important to give them structure and stability."

FYI, Eddins is now the State Attorney for 1st Judicial Circuit of Florida, which includes Pensacola. Makes you wonder what he might say about sentencing a 13-year-old to life for rape.

Tell me, justice, or not, in NW Florida?

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