The Washington Post

Court bars automatic life sentences for teens

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The Michigan Supreme Court outlawed automatic life sentences Thursday for people who were 18 when they participat­ed in firstdegre­e murder, opening a door to shorter prison terms and opportunit­ies for parole.

In a 4-3 opinion, the court said mandatory no-parole sentences at that age violate the Michigan Constituti­on’s ban on “cruel or unusual” punishment.

The “sentence lacks proportion­ality because it fails to take into account the mitigating characteri­stics of youth, specifical­ly late-adolescent brain developmen­t,” Justice Elizabeth Welch wrote for the majority.

Prosecutor­s still can pursue life sentences for 18-year-olds. But a judge first must hold a hearing where defense lawyers can present mitigating evidence, such as education, family life, decisionma­king skills and other factors.

It would be similar to the hearings now held for people who were 17 or younger when they participat­ed in first-degree murder.

The state’s high court ruled in the case of Kemo Parks, who was 18 in 2016 when he assisted his cousin in a murder outside a Flint market. His conviction meant an automatic no-parole sentence. — Associated Press

4 killed, 6 hurt in Calif. crash:

Four people were killed and six were injured in a head-on crash between a sedan and an SUV carrying a Mexican family of seven on a California vacation, police said. The crash happened Wednesday night on a two-lane highway in Rio Vista, about 60 miles from San Francisco. Rio Vista Police Chief John Mazer said the three occupants of the sedan traveling in the westbound lane and a passenger in her 70s in the SUV were killed.

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