Life term for 17-year-old Texan unconstitutional - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Life term for 17-year-old Texan unconstitutional

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The state's top criminal appeals court has overturned an Austin man's life prison term without parole for capital murder, saying it's unconstitutional to hand down such a sentence for a 17-year-old defendant.

A divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Wednesday in the case of Terrell Maxwell. He was sentenced in the 2007 fatal shooting of Fernando Santander during a robbery at an Austin apartment complex.

The 5-4 ruling left Maxwell's capital murder conviction in place but cleared the way for a new sentencing proceeding.

The Austin American-Statesman (http://bit.ly/N8orZq) reports the court split on whether a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling applied retroactively to defendants like Maxwell, who was 17 at the time of the killing. That ruling says automatic no-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.

Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

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