In the state of Pennsylvania there are more than 450 murder cases that involved juveniles.
Those convicted could petition for parole under the Supreme Court’s ruling and those with life sentences could get out on parole if its granted.
James ‘Frankie’ Rodger was put behind bars for life after stabbing and killing a 72-year-old Altoona man in 1988. With the new Supreme Court ruling, he can now possibly petition for parole.
Rodgers now 44 recently tried to appeal his sentencing for parole but that was put on hold until the supreme court made their decision.
Now Assistant District Attorney Jackie Bernard says they will review the court’s decision before considering Rodger’s request.
A local defense attorney feels the Supreme Court ruling makes sense.
“It’s consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling that juveniles that are convicted of murder,” said Thomas Dickey, “maybe might not be of the fully formed mind set to possess the mental intent that we view as being that bad to give somebody the death penalty or life imprisonment.”
He says that the prisoner will have to prove they’re a changed person.
“It’s all about saying look I’m not that guy, I’m a new person, I’m no longer a threat to the public, and those are typically the things that one would try to set forth in order to get parole,” said Dickey.
For victims, the ruling could mean that they would have to relive past cases.
“A lot of these victims are going to have to come back to court, relive all the horrific events in this case, provide victim impact statements, come to the parole board, provide testimony before the parole board of the impact of the crime, and it really just rips those wounds wide open for so many of these individuals.”
Jennifer Storm works with the office victim advocate and says she doesn’t know how Pennsylvania courts will deal with the parole appeals but the office is doing their best to prep victims.
“So these are pretty serious cases, these are really horrific cases, and every one of these cases resulted in the loss of a life, so we have hundreds of crime victims in Pennsylvania right now who are basically walking on eggshells not knowing what the certainty of the offender and their case and sentence will be.”