Kirsters Baish| Authorities charged Santa Fe shooter, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, as an adult on Friday. Pagourtzis was slapped with the charges of capital murder and aggravated assault on a police officer. We are now learning that a 13-year-old Supreme Court ruling takes the death penalty off the table.
A report that was published by “The Marshall Project,” a criminal justice website, and cited by USA Today, explains that the state of Texas has tried people the same age as Pagourtzis as adults in the past. The 2005 Supreme Court decision of Roper v. Simmons found that the death penalty was a direct violation of both the 8th and 14th Amendment prohibitions which are against cruel and unusual punishment.
On top of that, it was ruled by SCOTUS in 2012 that it is against the law for a juvenile to face life in prison.
This means that a young man ho was responsible for the deaths of eight students, two of his teachers, and the injuries of 13 more may be eligible for parole when he is 57 years old.
One University of Colorado Sociology Professor, Michael Radelet, explained to USA Today, “The courts ruled based on the idea that those 17 and younger don’t have the cognitive development to appreciate right from wrong.” Radelet is no stranger to testifying in death penalty cases.
He continued, “Cases like this that are especially violent and an enigma make some people think they are more deserving of death, but the ruling is about the development of the juvenile brain.”
The Muller v. Alabama ruling of 2012 means that this murderer actually has the chance of parole at some point.
It was argued by Radelet that if Pagourtzis is convicted of these crimes, he would still be brought to justice, despite the fact that the two harshest punishments are not an option.
He stated, “It’s wrong to say this young man can’t be held responsible for these crimes. Forty years is a tough row to hoe, and even then a parole board might not agree he’s not totally damaged or able to make a satisfactory transition into the community in 2058.”
Western Journal reports:
Capital punishment researcher Victor Streib said that 366 or more juveniles have been executed in the U.S. since 1642, although no information was provided about what percentage of those occurred before the Revolutionary War and under British, Dutch French or Spanish colonial rule.
Texas has executed 551 convicts since 1976, roughly a third of all the executions performed in the U.S. during that period.
A total of 243 prisoners await execution in Texas today, according to Death Penalty Information Center information cited by USA Today.
According to Streib, the last execution of a prisoner who committed a crime while still a minor, took place in 2003 in Oklahoma.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis had previously planned his attack via a journal and his personal computer prior to shooting up his high school.