Court prepares to resentence rapist


By Justin Wier

jwier@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Lawyers appeared in court Wednesday to discuss issues bound to come up at the April 17 resentencing hearing of a man who committed a brutal 2001 rape as a 15-year-old.

The Ohio Supreme Court vacated the 112-year prison sentence of Brandon Moore, now 31, and sent the case back to Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

The high court ruled that sentencing a juvenile convicted of a nonhomicide offense to a sentence that exceeds his or her life expectancy constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Judge Maureen A. Sweeney will have to provide Moore with a meaningful opportunity for release within his lifetime.

The prosecution and Moore’s defense attorney debated whether the opportunity for judicial release qualifies as a “meaningful opportunity for release.”

If Judge Sweeney decides that judicial release does not present a meaningful opportunity for release, she may have to allow Moore a definite release date because Ohio no longer allows parole for those who do not receive life sentences.

They also considered whether the defense could present new witnesses at sentencing and whether resentencing included reconsidering Moore’s classification as a sex offender.

Judge Sweeney will issue opinions on those matters before Moore’s resentencing.

Moore and three others kidnapped a 21-year-old Youngstown State University student in August 2001, and he and Chaz Bunch, who was 16 at the time, proceeded to rape her at gunpoint.

Bunch will also receive a resentencing hearing before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum, but assistant county Prosecutor Ralph Rivera said that will not occur until the 7th District Court of Appeals resolves a matter before it.

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