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Teen murder sentences: Oregon asks high court to step in

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The Oregon Supreme Court overturned the Whites' sentences in May

FILE – In this Oct. 18, 2018 file photo, the U.S. Supreme Court is seen at near sunset in Washington. Dozens of legal briefs supporting fired funeral director Aimee Stephens at the Supreme Court use “she” and “her” to refer to the transgender woman. So does the appeals court ruling in favor of Stephens that held that workplace discrimination against transgender people is illegal under federal civil rights law. But in more than 110 pages urging the Supreme Court to reverse that decision, the Trump administration and the funeral home where Stephens worked avoid those gender pronouns. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Department of Justice is taking the Salem case of twin brothers sentenced as teenagers to almost 67 years in prison to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Statesman Journal reports that Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is asking the highest court to review and place a hold on the recent Oregon Supreme Court opinion reversing the “life” sentences of Lydell and Laycelle White.

The brothers were 15 in 1993 when they broke into the northeast Salem home of Richard, 82, and Grace Remy, 80.

The Whites beat and strangled the couple then stole Grace’s wedding ring, $23 in cash and the couple’s car. They were convicted of the murders and each sentenced to almost 67 years in prison.

But in May, the Oregon Supreme Court overturned the Whites’ sentences, saying they amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment under a 2012 landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

That ruling held that it was unconstitutional for juveniles to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole due to their transient immaturity and developing brains.

The twins’ lawyer Ryan O’Connor said it marked the first time the high court has applied the Miller decision to sentences that aren’t true life, but essentially add up to life through the number of years.

The sentence would have allowed for the brothers’ release at age 81.

In the ruling, Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters said the circuit court failed to take into account how teen offenders are different from adult offenders and whether the Whites were some of the “rare juvenile offenders (so) irreparably depraved” that they required a life sentence.

Now 41, the Whites’ cases were set to head back to Marion County Circuit Court for re-sentencing.

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