Even though Dimitrios Pagourtzis was charged as an adult in the mass shooting at a southeastern Texas high school Friday, he will not face the death penalty and could even be eligible for parole someday, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Pagourtzis, 17, a high school junior, admitted to the shootings that killed 10 and wounded 13, according to court documents. While he is facing a capital murder charge, he cannot be sentenced to death because of the ruling in the 2005 Supreme Court decision, Roper v. Simmons. Christopher Simmons, a convicted killer in Missouri who was sentenced to death, won his case when it went to the Supreme Court. Justices, after examining practices in states where the death penalty was legal, decided that the national consensus was against executing minors, the Chronicle reported.
In Texas, a 2013 law banned life without parole for minors, the Chronicle reported.
“In Texas, after the Supreme Court’s decision, they passed a law that basically says that it’s a life sentence if you’re under 18 at the time of the crime,” attorney Amanda Marzullo, executive director of Texas Defender Services, told the Chronicle. “The court has said that it is cruel and unusual to execute an individual who is under 18 at the time of the offense.”
In the 2012 case Miller v. Alabama, Supreme Court justices struck down mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles. The following year, Texas legislators passed a law making life with parole the only sentencing option for minors charged with capital crimes, the Chronicle reported.
Marzullo said the first chance at parole would come after 40 years in prison.
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