Tevin Crockett was convicted a decade ago by a non-unanimous jury of murdering a man in Baton Rouge at the age of 15, and was sentenced to a mandatory term of life in prison without parole.
Benefiting from later U.S. Supreme Court rulings that struck down automatic life without parole sentences for juvenile killers and split-jury verdicts in criminal cases, Crockett pleaded guilty Thursday to manslaughter in the 2009 killing and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
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Under a deal between his attorney and the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office, Crockett's manslaughter sentence will run concurrently with a 50-year prison term he received in the 2009 case on a unanimous armed robbery conviction -- meaning his sentence is capped at 50 years.
Crockett's attorney, Kristen Rome with the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights, said in court that he should be parole eligible after serving 25 years of his sentence.
Because state District Judge Christopher Dassau gave Crockett, now 27, credit Thursday for the 12 years he has served in jail since his 2009 arrest, Rome is hopeful that Crockett, of Baton Rouge, will have a parole hearing in another 13 years.
"Tevin was a kid and we're happy to resolve this," Rome said after court.
Prosecutor Tracey Barbera said outside the courtroom that she agreed to the manslaughter plea in lieu of a retrial on the second-degree murder charge and a full-blown sentencing hearing if Crockett had been found guilty again on that charge.
Barbera said the family of Theodore Lange, the victim in the April 2009 killing at the Brandywine Condominiums, was consulted and agreed with the plea deal.
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"I'm glad we resolved this," she said before Crockett left the courtroom.
Lange, 57, entered the Brandywine complex to buy drugs when Crockett fatally shot him during an attempted armed robbery. Crockett was found guilty of robbing another man at gunpoint at the Darryl Drive complex.
"I was a kid, a juvenile," Crockett said Thursday to Dassau, who inherited the case after being elected to the 19th Judicial District Court last year.
Crockett's co-defendant, Rondale Simpson, previously pleaded guilty to armed robbery and manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was 16 at the time of the offense.
A year after Crockett was convicted by a 10-2 vote, the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 in an Alabama case that automatic life terms without the possibility of parole for juvenile killers are unconstitutional and said they are entitled to hearings to determine whether they're capable of reform.
The high court then decided in 2016, in the case of a 17-year-old boy who fatally shot an East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy in 1963, that its ruling should apply retroactively.
Reiterating the belief that “children who commit even heinous crimes are capable of change,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that a 69-yea…
The justices last year used a New Orleans case to declare split-jury verdicts unconstitutional. Crockett's lawyer said he would have been entitled to a new murder trial under that ruling.