PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Friday, Oct. 9, that it’s not unconstitutional for a juvenile criminal defendant convicted of multiple crimes to be sentenced to what amounts to an aggregate prison sentence beyond life expectancy.
The justices' unanimous decision upholds sentences for three inmates convicted in separate cases in Mohave and Pima counties.
U.S. Supreme Court rulings restrict sentencing of juvenile defendants, including prohibiting the death sentence and mandatory life sentences without possibility of parole.
Lawyers for the juvenile inmates in the Arizona cases decided Friday argued that their clients received de facto life sentences violating the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
However, the state high court ruled that the three inmates' lengthy aggragate sentences are allowed because they stem from multiple crimes and because the U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t addressed the impact of consecutive sentences imposed for separate crimes.
The ruling upheld sentences for Martin Raul Soto-Fong and Wade Clay, both convicted of murder and other crimes, and for Mark Kasic, convicted of arson and attempted arson.