Criminal, Juvenile death penalty: SIMS V. COM. (COA 9/7/2007)

SIMS V. COM.
CRIMINAL:  DEATH PENALTY, JUVENILES, RETROACTIVITY ADDRESSED
2006-CA-001369
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING
PANEL: HENRY PRESIDING; THOMPSON, WINE CONCUR
COUNTY: MCCRACKEN
DATE RENDERED: 09/07/2007

Sims was not entitled to a new sentencing hearing pursuant to the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 125 S.Ct. 1183, 161 L.Ed.2d1 (2005). Here, Sims pleaded guilty to murder in May 1994, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years. In Roper, the high court prohibited the execution of defendants who committed capital murder before they attained age 18. As the circuit court noted, the constitutional right established in Roper was that someone who was under 18 when he committed murder cannot be sentenced to death, not that he might escape a life sentence.

Note: This is the 4th published opinion on this exact issue by the CA – see Gussler v. Commonwealth, ___ S.W.3d ___, 2007 WL 2069509, Ky.App., July 20, 2007; McStoots v. Commonwealth, ___S.W.3d ___, 2007 WL 2141818, Ky.App., July 27, 2007; and Denton v. Commonwealth, ___S.W.3d ___, 2007 WL 2332062, Ky.App., August 03, 2007. Senior Judge Michael Henry’s feelings toward the Roper decision are revealed in the language of the opinion.

Digested by Scott C. Byrd

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