Illinois Supreme Court hears juvenile sentencing dispute - FOX 32 News Chicago

Illinois Supreme Court hears juvenile sentencing dispute

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Illinois Supreme Court had an overflow crowd Wednesday as the justices heard arguments in a bitter battle over life sentences for juvenile murderers.

This happened after the U.S. Supreme court recently decided that giving juvenile murderers a mandatory life sentence without parole was unconstitutional, a cruel and unusual punishment.

In the future, life sentences won't be mandatory, the judges will have some discretion.

The question argued Wednesday in Illinois was whether the courts decision should be applied retroactively, giving some juvenile murderers a new chance at parole.

One victim's mother was very upset.

Nineteen years ago Marsha Norskog, who lost her daughter in a murder, said after the trail, "I'm very happy that the other families will be spared the tragedy of losing a child because Steven will never, ever step foot on the street again."

Norskog was confidently predicting that Steven Pfiel would spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering two people, Norskog's thirteen-year-old daughter Hillary, and his own brother.

But today, Norskog watched as the Illinois Supreme Court considered whether killers like Pfiel should be able to make a case for parole.

"I believe it's an insult to our judicial system to say that they deserve to be heard again. What does that say about our judicial system. I think it's a slap in the face," Norskog said.

Pfiel had just turned 17 when he beat and stabbed Hillary Norskog. It's because he was a juvenile that his sentence could get another look.

Much like David Biro, who was 17 when he murdered Richard and Nancy Langert in their Winnetka townhouse in 1990. Nancy's mother, Joyce Bishop, was there Wednesday too.

"To see his picture in the paper and hear people talk about how sad it is that he's being incarcerated, it's more than I can bear," Bishop said.

The specific case argued Wednesday, however, involved neither Pfiel or Biro, but Addolfo Davis.

He was just 14-years-old when he joined two other gang members on a robbery, which ended as a double murder.

Although he didn't do the shooting, he was tried as an adult, convicted as an accomplice for the murders and received the mandatory life sentence without parole.

Davis' attorneys argued Wednesday that as the U.S. Supreme Court suggested, the sentencing judge should have been allowed to consider Davis' troubled upbringing, the fact he was only an accomplice and the possibility that he could change for the better.

"Our argument is that under any circumstance a fourteen-year-old child who was not the trigger person should not be sentenced to life without parole, and that he has served twenty three years in prison and that should be enough," Defense attorney Patricia Soung said.

Davis' cousin was in court, and agreed.

"I think any child who got life without parole at the age of fourteen-years-old should have a second chance," Davis' cousin, Shanna Davis, said.

Six other states have already dealt with this issue, three of them found that the Supreme Court's decision should be applied retroactively, with juvenile murderers getting another look at their sentences.

Three states found it should not.

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