A Woodbury family, concerned the man who killed their daughter would be paroled, can rest easier.
Tony Roman Nose, who was 17 when he stabbed and raped 18-year-old Jolene Stuedemann in her home in 2000, will not be getting out of prison ever, the divided Minnesota Supreme Court ruled today.
He was sentenced to life without parole, but a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that sentencing a juvenile to life imprisonment without parole constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment to the Constitution. It said a judge had to consider “mitigating circumstances” before imposing such a sentence. About 2,500 teenage murderers nationwide are sentenced to prison without parole.
Roman Nose used that decision in his attempt to one day be freed. A lower court ruled that he could be freed after 30 years, but today the state Supreme Court shut the door, ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court decision does not apply retroactively.
“By holding that the postconviction court was wrong, we do not impose a new sentence of LWOR (life without release). Rather, we simply reinstate the original sentence of LWOR,” Justice Lori Gildea wrote in today’s decision.
She also noted that Roman Nose committed the rape and murder just two months before he turned 18. “Thus, any immaturity, impetuosity, or failure to appreciate risks and consequences that was due to Roman Nose’s age was not appreciably greater than that of an average 18-year-old,” Justice Gildea wrote.
Three other justices joined Gildea in her opinion.
But Justice Alan Page dissented, referring only to his dissent in a previous case in which he said the Minnesota Supreme Court “got it wrong” when it ruled that sentences of life in prison without parole for juveniles is not unconstitutional. He said the court allowed an unconstitutional sentence “on procedural purity” and is allowing a sentence “imposed under a sentencing scheme that violates the United States Constitution.”
In an article last month in the Star Tribune about the case, Washington County attorney Pete Orput dismissed the criticism.
“The victims’ families are relegated to a life of sadness. They’ve been given their own prison sentence. When people say, ‘We shouldn’t put children in prison,’ I say, ‘He didn’t hesitate to put other people in their own psychological prison.’ ”
Related: Supreme Court rules juvenile life without parole cruel and unusual (Los Angeles Times).