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Eliason could be resentenced

Published 5:07pm Monday, June 25, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Monday it’s unconstitutional for states to pass laws automatically sentencing juveniles to life in prison without parole for murder.

The ruling means young prisoners nationwide, including Dakotah Eliason, could be re-sentenced.

“I think it applies to him. It would entitle him to resentencing,” Berrien County Prosecutor Arthur Cotter said Monday afternoon.

The decision came in Arkansas and Alabama robbery and murder cases of Evan Miller and Kuntrell Jackson, who were 14 when convicted.

Jackson accompanied two other boys to a video store to commit a robbery. One boy carried a shotgun, using it to kill the clerk.

Eliason, then 14, was convicted on Aug. 19, 2010, of the first-degree murder of his sleeping step-grandfather, Jesse Miles, on March 7, 2010, by shooting him in the head with a loaded revolver kept by the back door for protection against intruders.

Eliason was charged as an adult and sentenced to mandatory life without parole.

Berrien County Trial Judge Scott Schofield May 1 denied Eliason’s motion seeking a new trial.

Cotter said the 62-page decision, with “stinging” dissents, strikes down mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles, but judges can still impose that penalty based on circumstances. If Schofield resentenced Eliason, he could hand down the same term or a lesser number of years.

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