Thursday, January 22, 2015

In Re Wilson (Cal. Ct. App. - Jan. 22, 2015)

It's not just teenagers whose parents neglect and/or abandon them who turn to serious crime:

Wilson was born on September 7, 1977. He lived with his parents and two younger siblings in Inglewood, and then later in south central Los Angeles.

According to Wilson and his mother, his family life was very structured; his parents were overprotective and were strict disciplinarians. Wilson’s mother chose his friends, rarely allowed him to watch television, and would not let him play outside with other neighborhood children. He was not allowed to spend the night at a friend’s home. Until he was in high school, Wilson attended Los Angeles Christian School, where his mother worked. . . .

Wilson felt isolated and resentful because of the restrictions placed on him by his parents. He claimed that he was teased in the neighborhood for attending a charter school and because he wore a school uniform. Wilson began going out at night without his parents’ knowledge, and fought with his parents when they attempted to control his actions. . . .

Wilson began having behavioral problems at his school. His parents decided to send him to a public high school. He initially attended El Camino Real Charter High School in the San Fernando Valley. By his early teens, Wilson began using marijuana and alcohol on a regular basis. Wilson was truant from school. He associated with older males in his neighborhood who had made money by selling drugs and committing crimes. His parents would lock him out of the house for violating the house rules.

In ninth grade Wilson was expelled from El Camino Real Charter High School for fighting. Wilson’s mother enrolled him at Washington High School in Los Angeles. She later discovered that Wilson was not attending classes at Washington High School.

Wilson ran away to his paternal aunt’s house, after his mother found drug paraphernalia in his clothing. Wilson moved back and forth between his parents’ home and various relatives for a number of months. After one of Wilson’s friends was involved in a shooting, his mother sent him to Arizona to stay with another maternal aunt. Wilson soon found himself in trouble with his aunt for skipping school so he returned to Los Angeles. Wilson emulated the lifestyle of his friends who sold and abused drugs, consumed alcohol and did not attend school. At age 15, he joined the East Coast Crips gang and became involved in gang activity."

Needless to say, this does not end well.  In 1996, Derrick Wilson gets convicted of first-degree felony murder and attempted murder and sentenced to LWOP for a crime he committed when he was 17.

Today the Court of Appeal grants him habeas relief and a chance to be resentenced based upon the subsequent decisions of the Supreme Court about LWOP sentences for minors and the Eighth Amendment.

We'll see if Mr. Wilson takes advantage of his opportunity better than he took advantage of his parents' attempts to have him grow up a normal teenager.