This undated file photo, provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows Brandon Moore.
(Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and corrections via AP, File)
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A 112-year prison sentence imposed on a convicted rapist for the crimes he committed at the age of 15 was unconstitutional, because it does not allow any opportunity for a possible release, a divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The court’s 4-3 ruling came in the case of Brandon Moore, who was tried as an adult and convicted in the 2001 armed kidnapping, robbery and gang rape of a 22-year-old Youngstown State University student.
The woman was abducted when she arrived for a night of work and was repeatedly raped at gunpoint by Moore and an accomplice before being released, according to court records. The decision gives the case a county court to resentence Moore, now 29.
Hacker who brought attention to the Ohio rape case pleads guilty
Police: Thrift shop finds rape photos in a bag; Ohio man charged
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme court ruled in a 5-4 vote that teenagers may not be locked up for life without chance of parole, if they are not murdered someone. The court said in the case of a Florida man, where the time for armed robberies when he was a teenager that the constitution requires that young people serving life sentences at least be considered for release and the chances of recovery.
At issue was the question of whether the ruling applied to Moore, whose prison term imposed in 2008 consists of multiple sentences stacked on top of each other.
Justice Paul Pfeifer, writing for the majority, cited the brutality of Moore’s crime, and notes that the facts “do not provide a feeling of sympathy for him.” Nevertheless, the U. S. Supreme Court decision also applies to cases such as Moore, who would be 92 if first eligible for parole, Pfeifer said.
“It Is clear that the court intended more than simply allow boy was nonagenarians the opportunity to breathe their last breath as a free people,” Pfeifer said.
Justice Sharon Kennedy, writing for the minority, said of Moore’s sentence should stand because the US Supreme court, the ruling does not address stacked sentences. They also said that the state is in appeal that heard Moore’s delayed request to overturn his sentence had no authority to do that.
“I would like my voice to the call to support the creation of separate sentencing guidelines for youthful offenders which are bound over to the adult system, I cannot join the present majority of votes, there is no basis in the law and when to do this, in my opinion, would be in violation of the separation of powers doctrine,” Kennedy wrote.
Prosecutors in Mahoning County argued that multiple sentences make Moore’s punishment constitutional, even though they “may preclude the possibility of release during the juvenile offender’s life,” according to an August filing with the court.
Moore’s attorney said that his sentence amounts to the same thing.
It “defies science and common sense to think that a 112-year sentence is anything but life without parole,” Moore’s lawyers argued in a court filing in July.
Ralph Rivera, an assistant Mahoning County prosecutor said Thursday morning he was still the review of the 77-page ruling. A message left with Moore’s lawyer.