CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new look at juvenile life without parole following a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year is having a small effect in West Virginia, which three years ago banned no-parole sentences for minors and subsequently reviewed the sentences of those already in prison.
West Virginia lawmakers enacted a measure in 2014 that said offenders age 17 and younger convicted of serious crimes shall be eligible for parole after serving 15 years. The state parole board applied the legislation retroactively, and identified seven juvenile lifers in murder cases for whom the new terms were applied.
The state action came after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 banned mandatory life without parole for juveniles under 18 convicted of murder. Last year, the court said the ruling was retroactive for the more than 2,000 offenders serving such sentences nationwide, and that all but the rare irredeemable juvenile offender should have a chance at parole one day.
The state currently has no juveniles serving life without parole, said Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman Lawrence Messina. Messina said the parole board also applied the 2014 legislation retroactively to juveniles who were convicted as adults and received consecutive sentences. One such offender received a hearing in December 2014 and was granted parole.
According to Messina, the seven former juvenile lifers are:
— William Wayne, now 59, who got life without parole for the February 1975 murder of a Wood County shopkeeper and for the November 1979 murder of a state trooper during his escape from the West Virginia Penitentiary at Moundsville.
— John Moss Jr., 55, convicted of the December 1979 murders of a Kanawha County woman and her two children, 7 and 4.
— Lawrence Redman, 50, convicted of the September 1984 murder of a Berkeley County shopkeeper for $104 in pennies.
— Larry Hall II, 40, convicted of a March 1995 beating death in Taylor County.
— Cecil “Clay” Holcomb III, 39, convicted of the May 1993 murders of his parents in Fayette County.
Those five all were denied parole during 2014 hearings and will next appear before the panel in September. The other cases are:
— Michael Day, 32, convicted of the June 2002 murder of a homeless veteran in Cabell County. Day also was convicted of felony conspiracy. His parole hearing is scheduled for Dec. 9.
— Kelly Chapman, 24, convicted of the November 2008 murder of his intended victim’s unborn child in Kanawha County. His parole hearing is scheduled for October 2023.
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