Law

Supreme Court axes life sentence for Crow teen in murder case





The U.S. Supreme Court today lifted a life sentence for a juvenile member of the Crow Tribe who pleaded guilty to murder.

Wyatt Bear Cloud was 16 when he was charged for a murder that took place in Wyoming in August 2009. Shortly before his trial in September 2010, he pleaded guilty for his role in the crime.

Bear Cloud was sentenced to life in prison but later challenged the length of the sentence and the fact that he wasn't treated as a juvenile. The Wyoming Supreme Court in February, however, rejected his arguments.

The legal landscape changed in June when the Supreme Court ruled that juvenile homicide offenders cannot be punished to mandatory life sentences. As a result, the justices today vacated the Wyoming court's decision and ordered new proceedings in light of Miller v. Alabama

Bear Cloud will now get a second chance to argue his case in Wyoming. His attorneys at one point tried to withdraw his guilty plea.

The case is Wyatt Bear Cloud v. Wyoming, No. 11-10616.

Wyoming Supreme Court Decision:
Bear Cloud v. Wyoming (February 9, 2012)

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Supreme Court bars mandatory life sentences in juvenile crimes (6/26)