To see the juvenile lifer Kempis Songster, a man of 45, graying at the beard, seeking the mercy of a judge Monday at his resentencing for a crime committed decades ago drove home the pain of what the victim’s father lost the day two teenage runaways killed his son in a fortified crack house in Southwest Philadelphia.
On the eve of a hearing that will determine whether Kempis “Ghani” Songster will be freed after serving nearly 30 years for murder, supporters gathered to consider an alternate view of justice and accountability. – Kristin E. Holmes, Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News
Juvenile lifers are getting a chance at release under a Supreme Court decision that their sentences were illegal. Now, appeals by 18-, 19- and 20-year-old lifers who say they, too, should get relief have begun to reach the state’s highest court.
The court ruled that there is a presumption against life sentences for juveniles – and that, in order to sentence a minor to life, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is incapable of rehabilitation. – Samantha Melamed, Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News
For nearly 40 years, the Brinkley family has insisted that the wrong brother was sentenced to life in prison for murder – that it was 14-year-old Ronald who fatally shot egg-delivery man Charles Haag on Dec. 22, 1977, though 15-year-old Kevin was convicted.