DOVER, Del. — Charles Blizzard was sentenced by a Delaware judge in June to a year of probation after pleading guilty to offensive touching.
That’s a far cry from the life sentence he was given for the fatal beating of a man in 1982, when Blizzard was 17 years old.
Blizzard, now 52, was released from prison in 2014, one of more than a dozen convicted killers in Delaware who were resentenced after initially being given life in prison for crimes committed as juveniles.
After the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed mandatory life without parole for juvenile killers in 2012, the General Assembly revised Delaware’s sentencing laws in 2013. Lawmakers mandated a minimum sentence of at least 25 years for anyone convicted of first-degree murder for an offense committed as a juvenile.
Life without parole also remains an option for juveniles who commit murder in Delaware, but they are entitled to petition for a sentence review after serving 30 years.
Since the law was changed, 14 juvenile offenders serving life have been resentenced.
Of those 14, five, including Blizzard, have been released from prison. Four remain on probation or under DOC supervision for offenses committed as juveniles, including Kevin Thomas, also known as Khalil Abd Ar-Rashid, who shot an 18-year-old Wilmington man in the face in 1992 over a drug dispute. He is now in a work-release program.
Probationers include Charles Quillen, who was given a mandatory life term in 1988 after pleading guilty to beating an 18-year-old man to death during a burglary.
Another probationer is registered sex offender Linwood Shields, who was sentenced to death by hanging in 1975 for raping and killing a 54-year-old woman in her Millsboro home in 1974, when he was 15. Delaware’s Supreme Court set aside Shields’ death sentence in 1977 and ordered that he be sentenced to life without parole.
Also on probation is Keith Warren, convicted of killing a man with a baseball bat during a brawl outside a Dover nightspot in 1991.
The other nine offenders remain behind bars, including Donald Lee Torres, who was 14 when he set a fire in 1989 that killed a man, his wife and their two young children at a Middletown home. Torres was resentenced in 2014 to 110 years in prison, making him eligible for a sentence review and possible parole in 2019.
Only one Delaware inmate is serving life without parole for crimes committed as a juvenile.
Michael Jones was indicted in 2001 on three counts of first-degree murder committed in 1999, when he was 17, but he was not tried until 2005, when he was 22. The jury recommended the death penalty, but before Jones could be sentenced, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment was unconstitutional for juvenile offenders. Jones was resentenced in 2014 to life without parole for the drug-related killings of Cedric Reinford and Maneeka Plant, the granddaughter of two former state representatives. At the time of the killings, Jones was the subject of a separate murder warrant in Connecticut.
Another inmate, Desi Sykes, was sentenced to life in 1990 for fatally shooting a man in Dover in 1988. That sentence was interrupted, however, by a life sentence he received as an adult in 1996 for the attempted murder of a prison guard, who was beaten with a horseshoe and stabbed in the eye. Sykes also must serve an additional 105 years for the prison assault before resuming the juvenile sentence, which was modified in 2014 to 30 years.
Meanwhile, court records indicate that convicted rapist Warren Wyant is likely to be paroled effective July 1, 2018. Wyant was 16 when he repeatedly raped a 25-year-old pregnant housewife at gunpoint in 1982, threatening to kill her and her two young children. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1984 but was resentenced in 2014 to 56½ years in prison.
Read More: http://apne.ws/5SqUCV3