Douglas B. Fox, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Subrogation & Recovery department, discusses Kempis Songster’s case he took on 13 years ago, pro bono. In 1988, Kempis – who was 16 at the time, was tried as an adult in Philadelphia and convicted of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Anjo Pryce. He along with codefendant, Dameon Brome were handed mandatory sentences of life without parole. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that juvenile lifers could not constitutionally be subjected to an automatic mandatory life sentence without parole. Now, the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision gives nearly 500 juvenile life sentenced convicts in Pennsylvania hope of a resentence or parole. The ruling opens up a possible release to about 1500 juvenile lifers still alive in prison. Doug Fox favors resentencing over the parole remedy and persuaded U.S. District Judge Timothy Savage in 2014 to vacate his client’s sentence and ordered the district attorney to resentence or release Songster. The case was appealed by the Commonwealth but the Third Circuit recently sent the case back to Judge Savage for further proceedings not inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.
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