09:20, February 16 141 0 abajournal.com

2018-02-16 09:20:06
Retired judge who told teen he would die in prison urges SCOTUS to review and reverse her sentence

The retired judge, Evelyn Baker, recalls telling the youth he would die in prison, she writes in an op-ed for the Washington Post. “You made your choice,” Baker told Bobby Bostic. “You’re gonna have to live with your choice, and you’re gonna die with your choice.”

Bostic and a friend had been accused of robbing a group of people delivering Christmas presents to a needy family. Two shots were fired during the robbery, and one bullet grazed one of the people. The teens were also accused of abducting and robbing another woman. Bostic was found guilty at trial.

Baker believed Bostic hadn’t shown sufficient remorse. At sentencing she called him “the biggest fool who has ever stood in front of this court.”

“I am now retired, and I deeply regret what I did,” Baker writes. “Scientists have discovered so much about brain development in the more than 20 years since I sentenced Bostic. What I learned too late is that young people’s brains are not static; they are in the process of maturing. Kids his age are unable to assess risks and consequences like an adult would. Overwhelming scientific research shows that children lack maturity and a sense of responsibility compared with adults because they are still growing. But for the same reason, they also have greater capacity for reform.”

Baker didn’t technically sentence Bostic to life without parole, but she believes the sentence is unconstitutional under Graham v. Florida, which barred sentences of life without parole for juveniles who haven’t been charged with murder. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to hear Bostic’s case.

“The court should take the case,” Bostic writes, “and give Bostic the chance I did not: to show that he has changed and does not deserve to die in prison for something he did when he was just 16.”