LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Thirteen inmates serving life sentences for murders committed in Lancaster County when they were juveniles are likely eligible for a chance at relief because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision this week.
The justices extended a 2012 decision that struck down automatic life terms with no chance of parole for teenage killers, making it clear that the ruling applies to people convicted of murders committed long ago.
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said the timeframe for relief has not been established. He said any eventual hearing will involve a potentially wide range of evidence and applicable testimony.
“The decision is sickening for prosecutors and law enforcement on many levels, but we have been preparing for this possible outcome. We will fight for the victims and their family members every step of the way, in any courtroom or forum where we are needed,” Stedman said in a statement.
“That said, this decision does not mean that all these murderers are going to be released to the street. This is not a get-out-of-jail free card.”
The 13 are:
- Gregory Sourbeer was jailed in 1976 for killing his mother in Columbia when he was 14;
- Alec Kreider was 16 when he killed three members of a Manheim Township family in May 2007;
- Levar Jones was convicted of shooting, as a 14-year-old, taxi driver Brian Whetts during a 1995 robbery in Lancaster;
- Manuel Ortiz: Jones’ 17-year-old accomplice in the taxi shooting;
- Melisa McManus was 17 when she suffocated her newborn baby boy in 1993;
- Ricardo Cruz was 13 when he shot Debbie Rivera, 18, on a city playground in 1992;
- Michael Bourgeois was convicted of torturing and killing his adoptive parents in Ephrata in 2001 when he was 17;
- Emru Kebede was 16 when he conspired to rob and shoot Ray Diener in West Donegal Township in 2007;
- Tabitha Buck was 17 when she aided in the killing of Laurie Show in 1991;
- Four inmates convicted of killing city store clerk Michael Heath in 1996: Aramis Gonzalez III, then 16; Anthony R. Lewis, then 17; Rodney Lee Walton, then 16; and Clarence Laudenberger, then 16.
There are an estimated 450 inmates in Pennsylvania serving life for murders committed when they were under 18.