17-year-old's killer appeals life sentence
Attorneys for Charles Southern cite Supreme Court ruling
Charles Southern was one of two teens sentenced to life for the cold-blooded killing of a classmate in 2010. Now his lawyers are appealing the sentence.
Southern, now 20, and University Christian School classmate Connor Pridgen (pictured at bottom of story) admitted to killing 17-year-old Makia Coney (pictured below) because they wanted to know what it was like to kill someone.
The kill for kicks plot shocked prosecutors because both teenagers had no criminal record or reason to carry out the crime.
Southern's attorneys say his life sentence without the possibility of parole is cruel and unusual punishment based on the fact that he was 17 years old at the time.
"Really it comes down to, how do we treat juveniles in this country, and the Supreme Court has said we need to treat them differently in some respects," said attorney Gene Nichols, who's not affiliated with the case.
He said a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miller vs. Alabama, has set off a firestorm of appeals. The high court ruled that mandatory life imprisonment for juvenile offenders is unconstitutional.
"Just take a minute to Google it, and all over the state lawyers are filing Miller-type appeals, at least for individuals sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole," Nichols said.
A judge denied Southern's first motion in August to vacate the sentence. The First District Court of Appeal has yet to rule on Southern's latest appeal.
Regardless how it rules, Nichols doesn't expect the appeal to have any bearing on how state attorneys pursue the case.
"There is no question that the state attorney's office will continue to seek the life in prison sentence that they took," Nichols said. "The only question is whether or not it will be lawful sentence under Miller, and does he have the right to an early release based on the action the Supreme Court will take."
If Southern's attorneys do win the appeal, he would be resentenced.
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