2 years after ruling, man awaits shot at freedom
BATON ROUGE, LA.
A landmark ruling by the nation’s highest court gave Henry Montgomery his first chance at freedom after nearly a half-century behind bars. Two years later, the 71-year-old Louisiana man is still waiting for a parole hearing that could set him free.
Thursday was the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Montgomery’s favor. The decision enabled roughly 2,000 inmates to argue for release after receiving mandatory life-without-parole sentences as juveniles.
Louisiana’s parole board delayed a hearing on Montgomery’s parole request from Dec. 14 to Feb. 19. The board is waiting for a legal opinion from Louisiana’s attorney general on how many board members must hear Montgomery’s case. Under Louisiana law, a three-member panel is required for juvenile parole hearings, while at least five members are required for a parole hearing when a violent crime was committed against a law-enforcement officer.
Montgomery was 17 when he killed Charles Hurt, an East Baton Rouge deputy sheriff, in 1963. He was sentenced to death after a jury convicted him. After the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled he didn’t get a fair trial and threw out his murder conviction in 1966, Montgomery was retried, found “guilty without capital punishment” and sentenced to life without parole.
The Supreme Court decided in 2012 that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional “cruel and unusual” punishment.