EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A defense attorney says a judge was wrong to impose a life term for the second time on a Pennsylvania inmate who was a 14-year-old gang member when he shot and killed another teenager.
Qu'eed Batts, 22, was sentenced earlier this month in Northampton County Court to life in prison without parole. The new sentencing hearing was ordered after the U.S. Supreme Court banned mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles.
Batts was convicted in the 2006 shooting death of 16-year-old Clarence Edwards and the wounding of another teenager in Easton. He said he was acting on the orders of a Bloods gang leader.
Defense attorney Phil Lauer argued Monday that the new sentence is illegal and unconstitutional, and his client should be resentenced to no more than 20 to 40 years in prison, The (Easton) Express-Times (http://bit.ly/RBSBH5 ) reported.
Lauer acknowledges that the 2012 ruling by the nation's highest court still allows life sentences for juveniles following a hearing, but he argues that a 1989 case bars them.
He also cited Judge Michael Koury's statement that he drove to the crime scene and imagined the shooting the night before resentencing Batts, saying the judge considered evidence not introduced in the hearing and gave more weight to the crime than his client's upbringing and potential for rehabilitation.
Lauer also argued that the judge failed to consider testimony that his client would likely have been killed had he not carried out the killing. He also said authorities should not have been able to introduce late evidence that Batts had continued his gang ties while in prison.
First Assistant District Attorney Terry Houck said Lauer's arguments contained nothing new and some issues cited have been heard and dismissed by the courts, including a state high court rejection of Lauer's argument for a 20- to 40-year term.
Information from: The (Easton, Pa.) Express-Times, http://www.lehighvalleylive.com