Twenty years after after pleading guilty Newsexually assaulting and killing a seven-year-old girl in a Nevada casino restroom, a California man is citing immaturity as the basis for a new sentencing hearing so he can get parole.
Jeremy Strohmeyer was 18 when he pleaded guilty to molesting, kidnapping and killing Sherrice Iverson, seven, by strangling and snapping her neck in a bathroom at the Primadonna Resort and Casino in Primm, Nevada, in May 1997.
In October 1998, Strohmeyer was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences — one for each of the four charges he pleaded guilty to — without the possibility of parole.
Now 39, Strohmeyer returned to a Las Vegas courtroom on Thursday, asking a judge to grant him a new sentencing hearing which could lead to the possibility of his being paroled, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Throughout his two decades in prison, Strohmeyer is said to have insisted that his lawyers urged him to take the plea deal in lieu of going to trial, where prosecutors would seek the death penalty.
Strohmeyer was a high school senior, age 18 years and seven months, when he admitted to killing Iverson.
Studies have shown that people ages 18 to 20, or in ‘late adolescence,’ lack the emotional and intellectual maturity shown by adults.
In court Thursday, Laurence Steinberg, a Temple University professor specializing in adolescent psychological development, testified that, ‘Young people are more impetuous and impulsive than adults, so they’re more likely to make decisions without thinking about them or thinking about future consequences.’
He added that people’s personalities do not solidify until they are in their 20s.
Steinberg also stated that, ‘The same characteristics that have been used to describe 16- and 17-year-olds in Supreme Court cases would also describe people who are 18 years and months old.’
In 2012 and again in 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that juveniles who were given life sentences for only murdering one person should be granted a chance at receiving parole, according to The Mercury News.
When questioned by Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo, Steinberg, who had not analyzed Strohmeyer, admitted that he was not privy to the level of Strohmeyer’s maturity at the time when he killed Iverson.
When DiGiacomo said that some 18 year olds are capable of showing greater intellectual capacity than others might have, Steinberg said intellectual capacity is dependent on the individual.
Steinberg also said that it isn’t possible to determine what level of intellectual or emotional maturity a person might have had as a teenager, based on testing them when they are older.
‘There have been dozens of studies done that have looked at individuals who committed serious crimes when they were teenagers and have followed them into adulthood and have tried to predict whether they would turn out to be chronic adult criminals, and they’re not able to predict,’ Steinberg said.
A ruling on whether Strohmeyer is given a new sentencing hearing could be made by September.
Should Strohmeyer be granted the hearing, prosecutors have said that they would go for the death penalty this time around.
In 2001, the Nevada Supreme Court rejected Strohmeyer’s appeal to vacate his guilty plea based on the grounds that his lawyers pushed him into accepting the plea deal. The court also rejected a 2006 appeal he made.
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