Tuesday, February 04, 2014

People v. Lewis (Cal. Ct. App. - Dec. 16, 2013)

It's not that I approve of what the trial court said when it sentenced Marcellous Lewis -- a minor -- to 115 years to life.  (Essentially, LWOP -- Life Without the Possibility of Parole, since Lewis will almost certainly be long dead before his earliest parole eligibility date.)  Because, to be clear, I don't.  The trial court said:

"None of these people had done anything to you. You're just a mean, cold person. I don't know how you got that way. You said you were deeply affected by the murder of your brother and your cousin, but instead of trying to do something better, you cause more viciousness and more heartache to this community and to these people. You deserve the same amount of consideration that you gave those three human beings -- none.'"

Everyone deserves consideration as a person.  Even when, as here, that person is a rapist and murderer.  So I do not agree that a judge should display towards a defendant the same attitude defendant displayed to his victims.  That's inequitable, and unjust, pure retribution.  In its worst form.

At the same time, I must say, having read the facts of the case, that Lewis really seems like a profoundly bad person.  Really, truly, profoundly bad.  The kind of person you want to see locked up.  Potentially forever.  The kind of cold, heartless person that laypeople classically describe as a 'sociopath'.

As relevant here, Lewis is hardly the person you'd choose if you were trying to make the argument that a sentence of LWOP for a minor is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.  Given that fact, it's not at all surprising to me what the Court of Appeal does here.  And I'm virtually certain what the trial court will do on remand.  Something that the Court of Appeal allows.  And that will ensure that Marcellous Lewis will not see the outside of a prison for his entire adult life.