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October 6, 2015

Montgomery wards: certain victims' family members voicing support for juve murderers getting a chance at resentencing

As noted in this prior post, I am doing a series of posts in preparation for the US Supreme Court hearing oral argument in Montgomery v. Louisiana, and I have a terrific research assistant drafting summaries of various amicus briefs submitted in Montgomery (all of which can be found via this SCOTUSblog page).  Here is how he summarized some portions of this Brief of Amici Curiae of Certain Family Members of Victims Killed by Youths in Support of Petitioner:

A collection of people who have lost loved ones, including friends and family, to violent murders submitted an amicus brief in support of the petitioner in Montgomery v. Louisiana. Their argument is both emotional and sensible; it does not appeal to the formalisms of legal argument or precedent.

At its heart, this brief addresses the emotional and personal impact of locking away a person away forever for a crime they committed as a child. This brief pleads the Court to acknowledge the merits of leniency, compassion, and the rehabilitative potential of children. All of the stories contained in this brief are moving and important. Here are a few summarized excerpts.

Jeanne Bishop

“Jeanne Bishop lost her younger sister, Nancy Bishop Langert, brother-in-law Richard Langert, and their unborn child on April 7, 1990.” Brief for Amici Curiae of Certain Family Members of Victims Killed by Youths in Support of Petitioner, Montgomery v. Louisiana, (No. 14-280), at 4. Sixteen year-old David Biro shot and killed the couple in their home after breaking into their home while they were out and lying in wait for their return. After a two-week trial, David was convicted of the murders and sentenced to mandatory life without parole—the only possible punishment for a double-murder committed by a child in Illinois. Neither Jeanne nor anyone else in her family was not allowed to make a victim impact statement during sentencing.

Due to her religious beliefs, Jeanne forgave David, but she was happy that he “would be locked up forever.” Id. at 5. However, over time, Jeanne’s belief that David was a remorseless killer came under question and she decided to write to him. In response, David sent Jeanne a 15-page letter confessing to the crime for the first time and expressing “deep regret.” Id. Jeanne began to visit David in prison after this initial correspondence and has developed a “strong, honest, and respectful” relationship with him. Id. at 6.

“Jeanne knows that many want to write off people like David because, in their mind, people like him can never change. But, she wonders ‘whether what we are truly afraid of is not that they will never get better, but that they might.’” Id.

Linda White

On November 18, 1986, Linda White’s 26 year-old daughter Cathy was murdered by two teenage boys. Id. at 10. The boys asked Cathy for a ride out of town to avoid abusive parents. After Cathy had agreed and driven the boys a distance, the boys brandished guns and ordered Cathy to pull over. After stopping the car, the boys raped Cathy and shot her four times.

After being arrested, one of the boys — Gary — pled guilty to the murder. Gary, who was 15 years old at the time of the murder, was sentenced to 54 years in prison.

Many years after he was incarcerated, Gary agreed to let Linda, his victim’s mother, visit him. “When Linda and Gary finally met, Linda found that he was no longer the child who had callously raped and killed her daughter. Gary was a different person – a remorseful grown man who was desperately seeking both forgiveness and a chance to start making up for all of the hurt that he had inflicted.” Id. at 12.

As of 2015, “Gary has been out of prison for nearly six years. In that time, he has immersed himself in a new community, found and held a job, and begun working with drug and alcohol addicts at his church in a role in which his minister says he has made an incredible difference. Gary has kept himself out of trouble. He and Linda remain in contact, and he never stops apologizing for the pain that he caused. To Linda, Gary is a perfect example for why life sentences are so unjust, especially for children.” Id.

Prior posts in series:

October 6, 2015 at 10:24 AM | Permalink


"To Linda, Gary is a perfect example for why life sentences are so unjust, especially for children."

I pity Linda Gray for her loss. However, I don't praise her. First of all, we're not talking about "children" in the ordinary meaning of the world--we don't generally refer to 15 year olds as children (unless they're one's own). So I don't see why Ms. Gray is propagandizing here--it is intellectually dishonest. Second, how is a life sentence categorically unjust? And why is that conclusion buttressed at all by the fact that one person appears to have turned his life around? What about those who don't or who will not? What will the inevitable crimes that will result from a Montgomery decision in favor of the murderers prove up? Third, and what of those inevitable crimes? How many rape victims/murder victims/robbery victims will we trade for demonstrating our commitment to freedom?

This is, yet again, another example of Dougthink---that ripping open the settled LWOP judgments is somehow beneficial to victims' generally? You'll have to come up with more evidence than some dyed-in-the-wool bleeding heart liberal who has to show the rest of us how enlightened she is. (Personally, I find the disloyalty to one's own family member appalling, but that's just me.)

Doug, you want to inflict misery on people who didn't choose to be victims of crime or the family members of crime victims. You close your eyes to the misery that some of these people will inflict on the rest of us. And for what--some idea that, golly gee, it's just too mean to lock these "children" up? While you're at it, why don't you trot out that nonsense about how a win for the (mostly) murderers in Montgomery will benefit victims' families as a whole because it will incentivize the making of amends by the murderers.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 7, 2015 1:15:10 AM

Oh, so you don't generally refer to 15 year olds as children so I guess you'd say they're adults and you should also be able to have consensual sex and marry one also. What a idiot. The people that should have pity are the rest of us for someone like you.

Posted by: dave | Oct 7, 2015 7:33:49 PM

I don't say they're adults---but "children" BS propaganda. As for consensual sex--the age probably should be 16.

Dave, you're an idiot. If you're going to insult me, at least have an argument.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 7, 2015 9:34:53 PM

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