New questions arise of how to sentence juveniles convicted of murder

Appeals court rejected teen's life sentence in $3 robbery

Florida Department of Corrections booking photo of Thomas Partlow
Florida Department of Corrections booking photo of Thomas Partlow

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are new questions that have arisen about how to sentence juveniles convicted of murder.

These questions come after a Florida Appeals court overturned a life sentence for a 16-year-old Jacksonville teen who stabbed a man to death in 2010 for $3.

The First District Court of Appeals ordered a new sentencing for Thomas Partlow, now 19, who was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

The ruling to throw out the life sentence was based on the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down life in prison sentences for juveniles as unconstitutional.

Channel 4's Kumasi Aaron spoke with Assistant State Attorney John Guy about what the ruling means for past and future cases.

"That was the ruling from the United States Supreme Court, and they have directed us now in cases involving juveniles to conduct a further hearing for the court to determine whether or not life or some lesser sentence is appropriate," said Guy.

Guy prosecuted Partlow and said in that sentencing hearing, the state will make a recommendation on what punishment Partlow should face.

The sentence could range, because even though the First District Court of Appeals overturned Partlow's sentence, the court gave no guidance on what his new sentence should be.

"We will do some more background work and the defense will do a lot of background work to determine whether or not that's an appropriate sentence for a juvenile," said Guy.

Guy said a ruling of life without parole could still be possible.

"His mandatory sentence after the trial was life without the possibility of parole," said Guy. "Previously, there was life with a possibility of parole after twenty-five years. The court now can decide whether or not either of those is appropriate or if he should get a term of years."

The court said this ruling could potentially send back hundreds of similar cases to be resentenced, and asked for the Florida Supreme Court or legislature to address the situation.

"There are several and we will handle them one by one as they come in," said Guy.

A judge also sentenced Partlow to 45 years for armed robbery. Guy said that sentence will stand.