St. Louis Public Radio News
12:55 pm
Wed October 20, 2010

Mo. Supreme Court to hear arguments on juvenile life sentences

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments this morning in a case that challenges the constitutionality of mandatory life sentences for juveniles.

The case stems from the 2007 killing of St. Louis police officer Norvelle Brown. Antonio Andrews was 17 when he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Andrews's lawyer argues that mandatory life sentences for individuals under 18, whether they are charged as an adult or not, are unconstitutional because the court cannot take factors like age into account.

The state attorney general's office says the claim has been rejected by past courts and is without merit.

An attorney for Andrews argued Wednesday that it is unconstitutional for Missouri to require a life sentence for juveniles because it means other factors cannot be considered.

The Missouri attorney general's office defended the mandatory life sentence. It argues that there is little difference between a mandatory life sentence and deciding to sentence someone to life in prison.