« Did Gideon enable the war on drugs, the sentencing severity revolution and modern mass incarceration? | Main | Bill to abolish death penalty advances in Nebraska legislature »

March 19, 2013

Is TJ Lane eager to be the "uncommon" juvenile murderer who can constitutionally get an LWOP sentence?

130319-lane-shirt-1030a.photoblog600The question in the title of this post is prompted by this local news report about a high profile state sentencing proceeding which took place in Ohio this morning.  The piece is headlined "Ohio school shooter, wearing 'KILLER' T-shirt, sentenced to life in prison," and here are excerpts:

An Ohio judge has sentenced T.J. Lane, the Ohio teen charged with shooting three students to death and wounding three others last February, to life in prison without parole.

Lane showed up to his sentencing wearing a white T-shirt with the word "KILLER" in capital letters scrawled on it -- the same word police say he had emblazoned on his shirt the day of the shootings at Chardon High School.

Lane, 18, pleaded guilty last month to all charges against him in the Feb. 27, 2012, shootings, in which he opened fire on a cafeteria table full of students in the rural community of Chardon.

In a brief statement during his sentencing on Tuesday, Lane flipped his middle finger to people in the courtroom, which included family members of his victims, reported NBC affiliate WKYC.com.  He revealed his "KILLER" T-shirt to the court once he was inside, taking off a blue button-down shirt he had worn on the way in, the station reported.

Three students -- Demetrius Hewlin, 16; Russell King Jr., 17; and Daniel Parmertor, 16 -- were killed last February.  Nate Mueller and Joy Rickers were wounded, as was Nick Walczak, who is paralyzed from the waist down, according to Reuters.

Lane has not given a motive for the shootings, which rocked the tiny town 30 miles outside Cleveland.

The families of the boys who died in the shooting have attended every one of Lane’s court hearings, The Plain Dealer said.  "I feel he should be locked up for the rest of his life," Domenick Iammarino, grandfather of Daniel Parmertor told The Plain Dealer ahead of the sentencing.  "It was a despicable, premeditated act.  He should breathe his last breath in prison."

Those readers involved with juvenile sentencing or following closely modern Eighth Amendment rulings concerning life without parole sentences (LWOP) know that the Supreme Court in its recent ruling in Miller v. Alabama stated that "given all we have said in Roper, Graham, and this decision about children’s diminished culpability and heightened capacity for change, we think appropriate occasions for sentencing juveniles to this harshest possible penalty will be uncommon." It would seem that TJ Lane, who was well past his seventeenth birthday at the time of his seemingly random act of mass murder, was eager to use his time in court today to help ensure that he could be a "poster child" for the kinds of cases and kinds of juvenile defendants for which an LWOP sentence may still be constitutionally permissible.

A few recent related posts:

March 19, 2013 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e2017ee98d5238970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Is TJ Lane eager to be the "uncommon" juvenile murderer who can constitutionally get an LWOP sentence?:

Comments

1. "Lane, 18, pleaded guilty last month to all charges against him in the Feb. 27, 2012, shootings, in which he opened fire
on a cafeteria table full of students"
--> Ah, but he was only 17 when he did it, clearly not as culpable.

2. In a brief statement during his sentencing on Tuesday, Lane flipped his middle finger to people in the courtroom...
said something offensive to family members of his victims, and smirked...
He revealed his "KILLER" T-shirt.
--> Ah, the remorse is palpable...clearly cries out for mercy. Make sure he gets cheetos & conjugals.

3. Three students -- Demetrius Hewlin, 16; Russell King Jr., 17; & Daniel Parmertor, 16 -- were killed last February.
Nate Mueller & Joy Rickers were wounded, as was Nick Walczak, who is paralyzed from the waist down.
--> Ah, but it would be so cruel & costly to execute the slayer--not to mention disapproved by a SCOTUS decision--
so may he live long and prosper, right abolitionists?

~~nydailynews.com

Posted by: Adamakis | Mar 19, 2013 12:11:18 PM

If I'm the prosecutor, I'm down on my knees praying that the lovely Mr. Lane petitions for cert and gets it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 19, 2013 1:38:14 PM

it sounds like mr. lane might possibly be a legitimate sociopath.

Posted by: Erika | Mar 19, 2013 4:47:09 PM

Bill -- and what would be the favorable SCOTUS ruling you are anticipating? A reaffirmation of Miller's (perhaps not explicit) holding, that juveniles can, in some circumstances, be sentenced to LWOP? Or would you expect the Court to walk back Miller altogether, though neither party would have standing to advance that argument, given that he is already sentenced to LWOP.

Posted by: SashokJD | Mar 19, 2013 4:51:53 PM

SashokJD --

"...what would be the favorable SCOTUS ruling you are anticipating? A reaffirmation of Miller's (perhaps not explicit) holding, that juveniles can, in some circumstances, be sentenced to LWOP?"

Correct. There seems to be some doubt about this in various court opinions, and I would like to see the SCOTUS say explicitly that the Eighth Amendment does not categorically ban LWOP for kiddies - especially kiddies like this guy.

He should actually be executed, of course, but that's water over the dam at this point.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 19, 2013 6:08:38 PM

If you haven't seen and heard the tape of what he said at the hearing, you should.

Posted by: Thinkaboutit | Mar 19, 2013 7:04:11 PM

It is scary that there are minds out there like the mind of Bill Otis. Does he actually think this kid has any idea what he is saying or doing? The kid was 17. He is now only 18.

Posted by: Phil Jensen | Mar 19, 2013 7:09:42 PM

@Phil Jensen
Do you seriously believe that 17 is too young to know that shooting six people with a handgun is wrong?

Posted by: MikeinCT | Mar 19, 2013 7:47:20 PM

Phil Jensen is the type of person who thinks that a person's brain doesn't mature until he is 80, who thinks that statutory rape laws need to be extended until someone is 45, and people shouldn't have the right to drink or vote until age 30. In short, a nutcase.

Posted by: Daniel | Mar 19, 2013 8:22:21 PM

Other than the sheer stupidity of constitutionalizing the identity of who can let out a juvie murderer, this case points up more ridiculousness. Whether or not TJ Lane "deserves" a chance at parole at some point down the road really shouldn't be decided by his disgusting showing in court. If we are going to take the view that someone's shot at freedom is a constitutional right, then an outburst in court, no matter how evil, really should have no bearing on that question. This is why, when the court was looking at this stuff, I asked why does the case have to be decided now? Why not wait until a juvenile offender has sat in prison for 25-30 years to see whether Court intervention was necessary? The answer, of course, lies in the arrogance of the Court. Taking a wait and see approach doesn't allow these soft-on-murderer types to divine idiotic pronouncements like "meaningful chance at parole" and issue sweeping new rules dreamed up in their pea brains.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 19, 2013 10:20:30 PM

LOL i wouldnt' worry about it. This pretty boy is gonna be one of the future prison rape statistics!

he's gonna be lucky to make it to 21

Posted by: rodsmith | Mar 19, 2013 11:22:36 PM

This little $hit will get drubbed the very first day in the cross bar hotel...For sure.
Hes ignorant, a punk, no respect for anything or one, and looks to be about 135 lbs.
Most likely will spend a lot of time in solitary, after the female guard backhands him to the floor.

I wouldn't be doing what he did in court, even 3/4 brain dead....What an idiot...
Have fun kid....In 3-5 yrs when he wakes up, his nightmare will be real...

Bill, fry him.......Not to waste oxygen on the planet with this kid...

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Mar 20, 2013 3:12:53 PM

The message here is that some kids are flakey and dangerous, but they do mature with time. Of course, this does not mean that he should held accountable to the same extent as an adult. The risk that he may commit another crime is a different matter. That risk may change for the better or worse regardless of his age.

Posted by: Tom McGee | Mar 20, 2013 3:26:56 PM

hi good color your site nice posting i like this blog.

Posted by: Surviving Cancer | Mar 26, 2013 6:51:42 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB