A Supreme Court ruling is giving juveniles facing life in prison a chance at a new sentence. One Erie County man sentenced in the 1990’s is back in court to find out if his fate has improved.
Three men were involved in a robbery/murder more than two decades ago. One of the defendants was released on parole because of the juvenile re-sentencing program back in November, but another defendant in court today, Ricardo Noble, won’t see the same outcome.
Scott Cleaver was in court today testifying on behalf of his uncle, Richard Stevens, more than 20 years after he was murdered. Cleaver says, “He was a completely defenseless person, really. He was physically incapable of putting up much of a fight.”
Yet, back in 1991, he was shot and killed while working as a cab driver. The suspect, Ricardo Noble, was 15-years-old when he was convicted of that crime and sentenced to life in prison without parole. A judge re-sentenced Noble to 40 years-to-life in prison, meaning he could be up for parole in another 14 years.
Assistant District Attorney, Bobby Marion, says, “I came to the conclusion that he was still a danger to the community and also that, obviously, the crime that he committed was heinous and it was violent and so he should be punished accordingly.”
Noble’s attorney, Robert Barbato, says he was hoping for a shorter sentence, but he still stresses the importance of these re-sentencing hearings, given changes to the law over the last several decades. “The sentencing scheme back in 1991, if you were convicted of a murder two it meant that your entire life, your minimum sentence was life, your maximum sentence was life.”
While the victim’s loved ones are pleased the defendant will remain behind bars, the wounds from this crime are still fresh. Cleaver says, “He’s not being sentenced to death, no matter what else happens he’ll still be alive, which makes him better off than my uncle.”
The Assistant District Attorney says Noble has gotten into violent altercations with other inmates and prison staff. His family was also in court today, pleading for Noble to be released on parole, saying he’s a good man. But, that won’t be happening anytime soon.