CRIMINAL – NEW SENTENCE HEARING: GUSSLER V. COM. (COA 7/20/2007)

GUSSLER V. COM.
CRIMINAL:  RCR 11.42, CR  60.02 AND NEW SENTENCE HEARING
2006-CA-000754
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING
PANEL: NICKELL PRESIDING; COMBS, WINE CONCUR
COUNTY: LAWRENCE
DATE RENDERED: 7/20/2007

Circuit Court properly denied Gussler’s various post-conviction motions seeking relief from his 1987 sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years. The filing of the motions was predicated upon the rendering of the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551, 125 S.Ct. 1183, 161 L.Ed.2d 1 (2005). Roper overruled the earlier United States Supreme Court opinion in Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U.S. 361, 109 S.Ct. 2969, 106 L.Ed.2d 306 (1989), which held that death sentences passed constitutional muster for juveniles between the ages of 15 and 18 who committed capital crimes. Roper, however, found such sentences to be unconstitutional, reasoning that juveniles had diminished culpability due to their age. The holding in Roper does not affect the imposition of a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility for parole for a minimum of 25 years. CA rejected Gussler’s argument that his guilty plea in the circuit court was made in order to avoid the imposition of the death penalty, and therefore, he was denied the benefit of his bargain.

Digested by Scott C. Byrd
@ Olgin and Byrd

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