WASHINGTON (ABP) — The Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether it is constitutional to apply the death penalty to convicts who were teens at the time of their crimes.
The justices agreed Jan. 26 to review a case in which the Missouri Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the execution of a man who was 17 when he murdered a woman in 1993. Christopher Simmons was convicted of binding and gagging Shirley Crook during a robbery attempt, then throwing her into a river, where she drowned.
A closely divided Missouri Supreme Court ruled last year that executing those who are 16 or 17 at the time of their crimes would violate the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that executing convicts whose crimes occurred before they were 16 is unconstitutional.
However, in that 1989 ruling, the high court left the question about 16- and 17-year-olds open. The Missouri justices said that a national consensus of opposition to such executions had evolved since then.