JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Maddie Clifton's killer will be resentenced in February after the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional for a juvenile to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Joshua Phillips, now 32, was convicted in the 1998 murder of 8-year-old Maddie and was sentenced to life without parole when he was 15. At the time of the murder, Phillips was 14.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court said in 2015 that the law is retroactive, which is why Phillips' lawyer asked the court for a new sentencing hearing.
That hearing will be Feb. 27.
Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda said he will ask the judge to re-impose a life sentence with parole review. That parole review could happen as soon as 25 years after Phillips is resentenced.
Police said Phillips, Maddie's neighbor, stabbed her and clubbed her to death in his San Jose area home. He hid her body under the waterbed in his room.
Phillips' mother discovered the body a week later, after a massive search for the missing girl. Phillips was convicted a year later.