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Juvenile and death penalty PDF Print E-mail
Death penalty for juvenile offenders was banned by the Supreme Court in 2005.

The following excerpts are from "The Juvenile Death Penalty Today: Death Sentences and Executions for Juvenile Crimes January 1973 - December 31, 2004" (PDF), by Professor Victor L. Strieb, Dean and Professor of law at Ohio Northern University. The report is a comprehensive quarterly review of juveniles on death row in the United States, and the modern history of the death penalty in the United States as it relates to juvenile defendants. These excerpts are reprinted with permission. To view the entire report, or to contact Professor Streib, use the above link.


OVERVIEW OF THOSE WHO WERE UNDER JUVENILE DEATH SENTENCES

As of December 31, 2004, 71 persons were on death row for juvenile crimes. These 71 condemned juveniles constituted about 2% of the total death row population of 3,487. Although all were ages 16 or 17 at the time of their crimes, their current ages range from 18 to 43. They were under death sentences in 12 different states and had been on death row from 4 months to 24 years. Texas had by far the largest death row for juvenile offenders, holding 29 (40%) of the national total of 72 juvenile offenders.

All of the juvenile offenders who were on death row are male and had been convicted and sentenced to death for murder. The demographic characteristics of these juveniles and their victims are outlined in the table below.

Over three-quarters of these cases involved 17 year old offenders, and two-thirds of them were offenders of color. In contrast, 81% of the victims were adults. Over two-thirds of the victims are white, and half are females.

from "The Juvenile Death Penalty Today: Death Sentences and Executions for Juvenile Crimes", by Professor Victor L. Strieb (2004)

CHARACTERISTICS OF OFFENDERS AND VICTIMS IN JUVENILE DEATH PENALTY CASES (As of December 31, 2004)

JUVENILE OFFENDERS
VICTIMS OF JUVENILE OFFENDERS
AGE AT TIME OF CRIME
RACE
AgeNr%
161318
1758 82
RaceNr%
Native Amer.11
Asian23
Black2941
Latino1521
White2434
BY AGE
BY RACE
BY GENDER
AgeNr
0-1513
16-19 12
20-29 15
30-39 15
40-49 14
50-59 8
60-69 4
70-79 8
80-82 1
Ukn. 6
RaceNr
Native Amer.1
Asian7
Black8
Latino10
White64
Unk6
Gen.Nr%
M4951
F4749

from "The Juvenile Death Penalty Today: Death Sentences and Executions for Juvenile Crimes", by Professor Victor L. Strieb, (2004)

THE LEGAL CONTEXT OF THE JUVENILE DEATH PENALTY

For the past 15 years, the federal constitutionality of the American juvenile death penalty was a reasonably well-settled issue. However, the United States Supreme Court has expressed a renewed interest in reconsidering this issue, and state courts are getting involved as well. In Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U.S. 815 (1988), the United States Supreme Court held that executions of offenders age 15 and younger at the time of their crimes are prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U.S. 361 (1989), the United States Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution does not prohibit the death penalty for crimes committed at ages 16 or 17. Two state supreme courts have interpreted their own state constitutions to require specific minimum ages regardless of their state death penalty statute or the federal constitutional minimum age. Using this state constitutional approach, the Washington Supreme Court set the minimum age at 18 (State v. Furman, 858 P.2d 1092 (Wash. 1993), and the Florida Supreme Court set the minimum age at 17 (Brennan v. State, 754 So.2d 1 (Fla., 1999)). In Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), the United States Supreme Court held that the United States Constitution prohibits the death penalty for mentally retarded offenders, based upon reasoning closely analogous to juvenile offenders. In In re Stanford, 537 U.S. 968 (2002), the United States Supreme Court decided not to take the case, over a strong dissent by Justice Stevens (joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, and Souter). These four Justices not only wanted to revisit the juvenile death penalty issue but were ready to declare it unconstitutional and to "put an end to this shameful practice." On Dec. 8, 2003, the Kentucky Governor granted clemency to Kevin Stanford, changing his death sentence to life in prison without parole. In Simmons v. Roper, 112 S.W.3d 397 (Mo. 2003), the Supreme Court of Missouri interpreted current national data to hold that the death penalty for juvenile offenders now violates the United States Constitution's prohibition against Cruel and Unusual Punishment, but they did not reach the issue under the Missouri State Constitution. Although a ruling on federal constitutionality, Simmons applies only in Missouri at this juncture. On January 26, 2004, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari (124 S.Ct. 1171) and agreed to hear the Simmons case, now styled as Roper v. Simmons. Simmons is now scheduled for oral arguments on October 13, 2004 and a Supreme Court decision sometime in January or February 2005. The two issues before the Supreme Court are as follows: (1) Once the United States Supreme Court sets the Eighth Amendment Cruel and Unusual standard, can a lower court subsequently reinterpret and reject that standard under evolving standards of decency? (2) Is the death penalty for a 17-year-old offender now Cruel and Unusual under the Eighth Amendment's evolving standard of decency? Currently, 38 states and the federal government (both civilian and military) have statutes authorizing the death penalty for capital crimes, almost all of which are forms of murder. Of those 40 death penalty jurisdictions, 21 jurisdictions (52%) have expressly chosen age 18 at the time of the crime as the minimum age for eligibility for that ultimate punishment. Another 5 jurisdictions (12%) have chosen age 17 as the minimum. The other 14 death penalty jurisdictions (36%) use age 16 as the minimum age, either through an express age in the statute (3 states) or by court ruling (11 states). Minimal political consideration of lowering the express statutory minimum age to 16 has occurred in the past few years. No state has done so during the current death penalty era, and no record has been found of this occurring at any other time in American history. Update: The U.S. Supreme Court (5-4) upheld the Missouri Supreme Court and banned the death penalty for juvenile offenders, Roper v. Simmons (2005). Conversely, legislative and court activity to establish the express statutory minimum age at 18 has been steady for the past quarter-century:
1981 Ohio 1986 Oregon 1993 Washington 1999 Montana 2004 Wyoming
1982 Nebraska 1986 Federal 1994 Kansas 2002 Indiana
1985 Colorado 1988 New Jersey 1995 New York 2004 South Dakota
from "The Juvenile Death Penalty Today: Death Sentences and Executions for Juvenile Crimes", by Professor Victor L. Strieb, (2004)

CASE SUMMARIES OF JUVENILE OFFENDERS WHO WERE ON DEATH ROW IN THE UNITED STATES

ALABAMA (13) (Last Juvenile Execution: November 24, 1961) Adams, Ranaldo: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 23 (DOB: 7-1-1980); rape, robbery, burglary, and murder; sentenced on 12-11-1998. Bonds, James Willis: Black male; age 16 at crime and now age 20 (DOB: 7-24-1983); robbery and murder of white male age 59 in Houston County on 9-?-1999; sentenced on 11-11-2002. Davis, Timothy Charles: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 43 (DOB: 3-18-1961); robbery of store and rape and murder of white female age 60 in Coosa County on 7-20-1978; sentenced on 7-28-1980. Duke, Mark Anthony: White male; age 16 at crime and now age 23 (DOB: 5-15-1980); murder of white male age 39 (his father), white female age 29, white female age 7, and white female age 6 in Pelham (Shelby Co.) on 3-22-1997; sentenced on 3-25-1999. Duncan, Trace: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 27 (DOB: 11-15-1976); kidnaping and murder of white female age 37 in St. Clair County on 2-22-1994; sentenced on 3-8-1996. Hart, Gary Davis II: Black male; age 16 at crime and now age 31 (DOB: 9-19-1972); robbery and murder of white male age 22 in Mobile on 8-12-1989; sentenced on 5-9-1990. Hyde, James Matthew: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 27 (DOB: 3-2-1977); murder of white male age 36 (police officer) in Albertville (Marshall County) on 1-24-1995; sentenced on 7-9-1996. Knotts, William Thomas: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 32 (DOB: 11-20-1971); burglary and murder of black female age 37 in Montgomery County on 10-18-1989; sentenced on 8-1-1992. Loggins, Kenneth: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 26 (DOB: 9-15-1976); kidnaping and murder of white female age 37 in St. Clair County on 2-22-1994; sentenced on 3-8-1996. Pressley, Marcus Dewayne: Black male; age 16 at crime and now age 25 (DOB: 11-24-1978); robbery and murder of white male age 44 and white female age 48 in Sterrett (Shelby County) on 7-25-1996; sentenced on 10-10-1997. Slaton, Nathan D.: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 34 (DOB: 10-5-1969); rape and murder of white female age 68 in Albertville (Marshall County) on 5-28-1987; sentenced 5-22-1990. Wimberly, Shaber Chamond: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 24 (DOB: 9-6-1979); murder of white male age 67 and white female age 53 in Midland City on 1-27-1997; sentenced on 7-30-1998; reversed in 1999; resentenced to death on 5-?-2001. Wynn, Gregory: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 24 (DOB: 2-9-1981); robbery and murder of female age 30 in Anniston on 4-8-1998; sentenced on 9-17-1999. ARIZONA (4) (Last Execution of a Juvenile: July 6, 1934) Aguilar, Tonatihu: Latin male; age 16 at crime and now age 24 (DOB: 2-11-1980); murder of Latin male age 28 and Latin female age 28 in Phoenix on 10-15-1996; sentenced on 6-19-2003 Jackson, Levi Jaimes: White male; age 16 at crime and now age 28 (DOB: 1-15-1976); car jacking and murder of white female age 40 in rural Pima County on 12-7-1992; sentenced on 1-26-1994. Laird, Kenneth Jeremy: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 29 (DOB: 3-21-1975); burglary, robbery and murder of white female age 37 in North Phoenix on 9-3-1992; sentenced on 4-15-1994. Soto-Fong, Martin Raul: Chinese/Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 29 (DOB: 10-6-1974); robbery and murder of 3 Asian males, ages 32, 45, and 77, in Pima County (Tucson) on 6-24-1992; sentenced on 2-3-1994. FLORIDA (3) (Last Execution of a Juvenile: November 8, 1954) Bonifay, James Patrick: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 30 (DOB: 12-26-1973); robbery and murder of white male age 36 in Pensacola on 1-26-1991; sentenced on 9-20-1991; reversed in 1993; resentenced to death on 12-6-1994. LeCroy, Cleo Douglas: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 41 (DOB: 3-7-1963); robbery and murder of white male age 27 and white female age 25 in Palm Beach County on 1-4-1981; sentenced on 10-1-1986. Ramirez, Nathan: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 26 (DOB: 4-22-1977); rape and murder of white female age 71 in New Port Richey on 3-7-1995; sentenced on 11-8-1996; reversed in 1999; resentenced on 12-13-2003. GEORGIA (2) (Last Execution of a Juvenile: December 7, 1993) Gibson, Exzavious Lee: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 31 (DOB: 3-31-1972); robbery and murder of male age 46 in Eastman (Dodge County) on 2-2-1990; sentenced on 6-14-1990. Jenkins, Larry Leonarde: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 28 (DOB: 11-10-1975); robbery, kidnaping and murder of white female age 37 and white male age 15 in Jessup (Wayne County) on 1-9-1993; sentenced on 9-30-1995. LOUISIANA (4) (Last Execution of a Juvenile: May 18, 1990) Bridgewater, Roy: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 24; burglary and murder of white female age 70 and white male age 45 in Marrero (Jefferson Parish) on 10-31-1996; sentenced on 3-1-1999. Craig, Dale Dwayne: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 29 (DOB: 9-22-1974); car-jacking and murder of white male age 18 in Baton Rouge on 9-14-1992; sentenced on 1-13-1995. Howard, Cedric D'Wayne: Black male; age 16 at crime and now age 25 (DOB: 6-6-1978); robbery and murder of white female age 82 on 10-24-1994; sentenced on 7-14-1997. Wilson, Aaron: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 20; kidnaping, robbery, rape, and murder of white female age 48 in Caddo Parish on 12-23-2000; sentenced on 9-25-2002. MISSISSIPPI (5) (Last Execution of a Juvenile: May 25, 1950) Dycus, Kelvin: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 24 (DOB: 9-19-1979); robbery and murder of female age 76 on 9-24-1996; sentenced on 6-19-1998. Eskridge, Roderick: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 24 (DOB: 1-25-1980); robbery and murder of female age 34 in Grenada County on 12-2-1997; sentenced on 1-26-1999. Foster, Ronald Chris: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 32 (DOB: 1-8-1972) robbery and murder of white male adult in Lowndes County on 6-10-1989; sentenced on 1-18-1991. Holly, William Joseph: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 29 (DOB: 8-6-1974); robbery and murder of black male age 37 in Grenada County on 7-12-1992; sentenced on 3-3-1993. McGilberry, Stephen Virgil: American Indian/white male; age 16 at crime and now age 26 (DOB: 2-7-1978); four death sentences for murders of white female age 44 (his mother), white male age 44 (his stepfather), white female age 24 (his stepsister), and white male age 3 (his stepsister's son) in St. Martin (Jackson County) on 10-23-1994; sentenced on 2-9-1996. NEVADA (1) (Last Execution of a Juvenile: April 22, 1949) Domingues, Michael (AKA Miguel): Latin male; age 16 at crime and now age 27 (DOB: 1-29-1977); burglary, theft, and murder of Asian female age 24 and Asian male age 4 in Las Vegas on 10-22-1993; sentenced on 9-16-1994. NORTH CAROLINA (4) (Last Execution of a Juvenile: October 30, 1942) Adams, Thomas Mark: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 33 (DOB: 7-20-1970); robbery and murder of white female age 70 in Iredell County on 12-13-1987; sentenced on 11-19-1988; reversed in 1994; resentenced to death on 9-1-1995. Chapman, Lamorris J.: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 21 (DOB: 12-12-1982); murder of black female age 16 in Johnston County on 7-9-2000; sentenced on 11-2-2001. Golphin, Kevin Salvador: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 24 (DOB: 12-26-1979); murder of white male age 48 (Highway Patrol officer) and white male age 58 (Sheriff's Corporal) near Fayetteville on 9-23-1997; sentenced on 5-13-1998. Walters, Travis LeVance: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 23 (DOB: 7-8-1980); murder of American Indian female age 18 in Lumberton on 1-6-1998; sentenced on 4-5-2001. PENNSYLVANIA (2) (Last Execution of a Juvenile: December 4, 1916) Hughes, Kevin: Black male; age 16 at crime and now age 42 (DOB: 3-5-1962); rape and murder of black female age 9 in Philadelphia on 3-1-1979; sentenced on 10-27-1983. Lee, Percy: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 35 (DOB: 8-24-1968); murder of two black females, ages 17 and 33, in Philadelphia on 2-27-1986; sentenced on 1-28-1988. SOUTH CAROLINA (3) (Last Execution of a Juvenile: January 10, 1986) Hughes, Herman Lee, Jr.: Black male; age 16 at crime and now age 25 (DOB: 7-26-1977); robbery and murder of male age 20 in Orangeburg on 3-18-1994; sentenced in 1995. Morgan, Eric Dale: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 21; robbery and murder of white male age 57 near Woodruff (Spartanburg County) on 5-3-2000; sentenced on 3-9-2004. Powers, Ted Benjamin: White male; age 16 at crime and now age 29 (DOB: 9-19-1973); burglary, robbery, and murder of white male age 68 in Lexington County on 9-8-1990; sentenced on 2-23-1996. TEXAS (29) (Last Execution of a Juvenile: August 28, 2002) Acuna, Robert Aaron: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now 18; robberies and murders of adult white (?) male age 75 and white (?) female age 74 in Baytown (Harris County) on 11-11-2003; sentenced on 8-11-2004 Alvarado, Steven Brian: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 29 (DOB: 8-11-1974); robberies and murders of adult Latin male and adult Latin female in El Paso on 9-22-1991; sentenced on 10-5-1993. Arroyo, Randy: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 24 (DOB: 10-31-1979); kidnaping and murder of Latin male age 39 on 3-11-1997 in San Antonio; sentenced on 3-6-1998. Arthur, Mark Sam: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 24 (DOB: 8-1-1979); murder of Latin male age 41 in Harris County on 12-21-1996; sentenced on 12-17-1997. Barraza, Mauro Morris: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 31 (DOB: 5-5-1972); robbery and murder of white female age 73 in Haltom City (Tarrant County) on 6-14-1989; sentenced on 4-8-1991. Bernal, Johnnie: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 27 (DOB: 8-20-1976); murder of white (?) male age 19 in Houston on 8-19-1994; sentenced on 5-8-1995. Capetillo, Edward Brian: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 26 (DOB: 5-13-1977); murders of white male age 19 and white female age 20 in Harris County on 1-16-1995; sentenced on 2-6-1996. Cobb, Raymond Levi: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 27 (DOB: 6-18-1976); murders of white female age 23 and white female age 16 months in Huntsville on 12-27-1993; sentenced on 2-27-1997; reversed in 2000; resentenced to death in 2001. Dewberry, John Curtis: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 27 (DOB: 1-30-1977); murder of white male age 57 in Beaumont (Jefferson County) on 12-25-1994; sentenced on 11-21-1996. Dickens, Justin Wiley: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 27 (DOB: 7-28-1976); murder of white male age 50 in Randall County on 3-12-1994; sentenced on 5-17-1995. Dixon, Anthony Tyrone: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 27 (DOB: 11-7-1976); robbery and murder of white female age 34 in Houston (Harris County) on 5-15-1994; sentenced on 2-8-1995. Guillen, Derek Jermaine: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 23 (DOB: 10-20-1980); robbery, rape and murder of white female age 52 in Tempe on 3-26-1998; sentenced on 6-1-1999. Horn, Patrick: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 29; kidnaping and murder of male age 8 in Tyler on 10-13-1991; sentenced on 10-4-1999 [currently serving life sentence in federal prison in Atlanta, GA.]. Johnson, Eddie C.: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 25 (DOB: 11-26-1978); robbery and murder of white male age 42 in Fort Worth on 3-6-1996; sentenced on 7-31-1997. Jones, Anzel Keon: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 26 (DOB: 2-4-1978); murder of white female age 49 in Grayson County on 5-2-1995; sentenced on 6-4-1996. Little, Leo Gordon: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 23 (DOB: 7-14-1980); kidnaping, robbery and murder of Latin male age 22 in San Antonio on 1-22-1998; sentenced on 3-5-1999. Lopez, Michael Anthony, Jr.: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 22 (DOB: 4-28-1981); murder of male age 25 (deputy constable) in Harris County on 9-29-1998; sentenced on 5-25-1999. Monterrubio, Jose Ignacio: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 27 (DOB: 8-26-1976); rape and murder of Latin female age 16 in Brownsville (Cameron County) on 9-5-1993; sentenced on 8-25-1994. Perez, Efrian: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 28 (DOB: 11-19-1975); rape and murder of white female age 14 and white female age 16 in Houston (Harris County) on 6-24-1993; sentenced on 9-22-1994. [Co-defendant of Raul Villareal] Reeves, Whitney: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 22 (DOB: 8-21-1981); murders of white female age 14 and white male age 40 in Beaumont on 8-20-1999; sentenced on 9-8-2000. Salinas, Jorge Alfredo: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 20 (DOB: 4-1-1984); robbery and murder of Latin male age 20 and Latin female age 21 months in Mission (Hidalgo County) on 7-28-2001; sentenced on 8-29-2002. Solomon, Christopher Julian: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 24 (DOB: 1-30-1980); robbery and murder of white male adult in Texarcana on 9-19-1997; sentenced on 6-4-1999. Soriano, Oswaldo Regalado: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 28 (DOB: 6-26-1975); robbery and murder of white male age 59 in Amarillo on 11-17-1992; sentenced on 5-4-1994. Springsteen, Robert Burns, IV: White male; age 17 at crime and now age 29 (DOB: 11-26-1974); robbery and murder of white female age 13 in Austin on 12-6-1991; sentenced on 6-1-2001. Tran, Son Vu Khai: Asian-American male; age 17 at crime and now age 23 (DOB: 5-11-1980); murder of Latin male adult and Asian-American male age 20 in Houston on 10-25-1997; sentenced on 12-18-2000. Villareal, Raul Omar: Latin male; age 17 at crime and now age 28 (DOB: 9-25-1975); rape and murder of white female age 14 and white female age 16 in Houston (Harris County) on 6-24-1993; sentenced on 9-22-1994. [Co-defendant of Efrian Perez] Williams, Bruce Lee: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 22 (DOB: 12-16-1981); car-jacking, rape and murder of Asian-American female age 24 in Dallas on 2-3-1999; sentenced on 12-10-1999. Williams, Nanon McKewn: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 29 (DOB: 8-2-1974); murder of white male age 19 in Harris County on 5-14-1992; sentenced on 9-22-1995. Wilson, Geno Capoletti: Black male; age 17 at crime and now age 22 (DOB: 5-24-1981); robbery and murder of male age 19 in Houston on 12-2-1998; sentenced on 12-10-1999. VIRGINIA (1) (Last Execution of a Juvenile: January 19, 2000) Johnson, Shermaine Ali: Black male; age 16 at crime and now age 26 (DOB: 12-30-1977); rape and murder of black female age 22 in Petersburg (Prince George County) on 7-10-1994; sentenced on 2-22-1998; reversed in 2001; resentenced to death on 10-28-2002.
from "The Juvenile Death Penalty Today: Death Sentences and Executions for Juvenile Crimes", by Professor Victor L. Strieb, (2004)
 

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