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Washington State Supreme Court Overturns Life Sentences For Young Killers

SEATTLE (AP) – The Washington state Supreme Court has overturned the automatic life-without-parole sentences given to two men for murders committed when they were 19 and 20, saying they were too young for such sentences to apply.

Kurtis Monschke and Dwayne Bartholomew were convicted in separate cases of aggravated first-degree murder, which under state law was punishable only by the death penalty or life without possibility of release.

The court has since struck down capital punishment as unconstitutional.

In a 5-4 decision Thursday, the majority said judges must consider the youth of such defendants – even if they’re over 18 – in deciding whether to sentence them to life without release.

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