Thirteen inmates serving life for killings they committed in Lancaster County as juveniles are now waiting for an answer from the United States Supreme Court.
The high court heard argument Tuesday as to whether its 2012 condemning of automatic life terms for juvenile killers will apply to those already sentenced.
Thirteen inmates were sentenced in Lancaster County to life-without-parole for 1st- or 2nd-degree murders committed here. Previously, that was the mandatory sentence for such crimes.
The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office expects a decision sometime next year, perhaps in the spring.
If the high court doesn’t render an opinion, or finds that past sentences aren’t affected, the 13 local killers will stay in prison.
If the high court finds retroactivity, those 13 will all have opportunities for new sentences.
In that instance, some of those inmates will have already served new, mandatory minimum terms signed into Pennsylvania law in 2012. Regardless, judges still have discretion to order life terms, if they deem fit.
Of the 13, Gregory Sourbeer has served the longest term, thus far. He was jailed in 1976 for killing his mother in Columbia when he was 14.
The others are:
- Alec Kreider: He was 16 when he killed three members of a Manheim Township family in May 2007.
- Levar Jones: Convicted of shooting, as a 14-year-old, taxi driver Brian Whetts during a 1995 robbery in Lancaster.
- Melisa McManus: She was 17 when she suffocated her newborn baby boy in 1993.
- Manuel Ortiz: Jones' 17-year-old accomplice in the taxi shooting.
- Ricardo Cruz: The youngest person on the list, Cruz was 13 when he shot Debbie Rivera, 18, on a city playground in 1992.
- Michael Bourgeois: Convicted of torturing and killing his adoptive parents in Ephrata in 2001. He was 17.
- Emru Kebede: He was 16 when he conspired to rob and shoot Ray Diener in West Donegal Township in 2007.
- Tabitha Buck: She was 17 when she aided in the killing of Laurie Show in 1991.
These four inmates were sentenced for the killing of Lancaster city store clerk Michael Heath in 1996:
- Aramis Gonzalez III, then 16; Anthony R. Lewis, then 17; Rodney Lee Walton, then 16; and Clarence Laudenberger, then 16.
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