Supreme Court overturns life sentence given juvenile 35 years ago | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Supreme Court overturns life sentence given juvenile 35 years ago

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 12:37 PM

click to enlarge STEVEN BRAMLETT: New sentencing ordered in juvenile conviction in 1979.
  • STEVEN BRAMLETT: New sentencing ordered in juvenile conviction in 1979.
Following recent U.S. Supreme Court guidance, the Arkansas Supreme Court today overturned the life sentence given Steven Wayne Bramlett in 1979 for attempted murder in Pope County. He was 17 at the time of the crime and entered a negotiated plea. Now 54, he's imprisoned at Cummins.

The statute under which he was sentenced has been found unconstitutional and the court granted his request for a return of his case to the circuit court for resentencing to a term of years. The Supreme Court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled hat it was unconstitutional to give a juvenile a life sentence, with no parole, for a nonhomicide offense. But there are differences of opinion on what constitutes a homicide offense. A lower court in Arkansas said Bramlett intended for his victim to die and she would have but for "poor aim." The state argued that Bramlett's attempt to kill amounted to a homicide.

The Supreme Court disagreed. It said Arkansas case law was clear that "homicide" required a death. And it also said it interpreted the U.S. Supreme Court to hold the same view. It ordered a new sentencing consistent with the ruling.

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