A Genesee County Judge held a sentencing hearing Friday for a juvenile convicted of felony murder. Judge Archie Haymanâ??s decision could set precedent for how other courts interpret a June 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Juwan Wickware, 19, was found guilty of first-degree murder in the April 2010 shooting death of pizza delivery man Michael Nettles. Wickware was 16 at the time.
The conviction calls for a mandatory sentence of life without parole in Michigan, but the Supreme Court ruled that states can't mandate life without parole for juveniles convicted of murder. The court went on to say that individual judges can weigh the evidence and hand down a life without parole sentence if the punishment is deemed appropriate.
On Friday Judge Hayman heard testimony from a psychologist who said Wickware seemed disengaged after the crime and seemed to lack maturity. Wickware's mother, Sonya Terrell Burks, also took the witness stand and talked about her sonâ??s troubled childhood.
Wickware's attorney is asking the court to sentence the teen to a term of years in prison.
â??I think the Supreme Court has said that juveniles, people who are children at the times that their offenses are committed need to be given a meaningful opportunity for release at some point,â?? attorney Jodi Heminway said.
The prosecution is pursuing a life without parole sentence for Wickware.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled to continue on August 9 at 1:30 p.m.