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Man seeks reduced sentence for 1988 Kansas City explosion

One of a set of four defendants who are serving life terms in connection with several deaths after a Kansas City explosion will be allowed to seek a reduced sentence. The man, who was 17 at the time of the 1988 crimes, will be permitted to plead his case in a federal court. Even though the courts did not make an effort to rehabilitate the child at the time of the alleged crime, the justice system has a chance to make things right now. A recent Supreme Court decision prompted the additional hearing, after justices at the nation's highest court determined that mandatory life sentences without possibility for parole were not acceptable options within the juvenile law system.

The man's conviction occurred after he was accused of involvement in an explosion in 1998 that killed several firefighters. The group of defendants were accused of igniting a trailer filled with ammonium nitrate and fuel oil that then lit a second explosives trailer on fire. The blast was so severe that the explosion damaged foundations and utility lines in the area.

This defendant was the only one of five people who were convicted of the crime in the late 1990's who was a juvenile at the time of the explosion. Some sources assert that the young man's innocence itself should be debated at the new re-sentencing hearing, while others say that the arguments should be limited to the fact that he was a minor who received a life sentence. Several advocates for the man say they believe that new evidence may have serious implications related to the convictions of all five defendants.

A recent investigation by a federal agency has determined that there were several other people involved in the crimes who were never prosecuted. Those people were reportedly involved with the crime, but they were never charged. It is not clear whether prosecutors intend to pursue these new defendants.

Defendants who have been convicted within the juvenile law system may have specific rights that differ from those provided by the adult system. Those who have been inappropriately sentenced in the juvenile law system deserve to have their rights protect. A Kansas attorney may be able to provide more information.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Defendant in KC firefighter deaths will get a chance to argue his sentence" Mike McGraw, Feb. 05, 2014

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