US Supreme Court move clears way for resentencing hearings for Nebraska juvenile lifers



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OMAHA, Nebraska — The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a Nebraska Supreme Court ruling ordering a new sentence for a man sent as a teenager to prison without a chance for parole, opening the door for more people sentenced to life as juveniles to get new sentencing hearings.

The nation's high court declined to review the case Monday, and Douglas Mantich's attorney said Thursday that he filed paperwork to start the process of getting a resentencing hearing scheduled.

Mantich was sentenced to life for his role in a 1993 gang-related shooting death in Omaha. The Nebraska Supreme Court ordered a new sentence for Mantich on Feb. 7, along with two others — Eric Ramirez and Juan Castaneda — who were sentenced to life for their roles in a 2008 Omaha shooting spree that left two dead and one injured. All three were teenagers when the crimes were committed.

The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld their convictions, but ordered resentencings, citing a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that teenagers cannot be locked up for life without the chance of parole.

In Mantich's case, the state's high court found that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling applies retroactively to people in custody. It ordered post-conviction relief for Mantich by resentencing him according to a new state law — enacted in response to the 2012 ruling — that calls for a sentence of 40 years to life for juveniles who commit first-degree murder.

The Nebraska Attorney General's Office asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the February ruling in Mantich's case, and the attorneys general for Michigan and six other states — Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana and New Hampshire — joined the request.

Mantich's attorney, Adam Sipple of Omaha, said Thursday he and his client were pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court's action.

"We think this will give the trial court an opportunity to impose a more just sentence after considering all the relevant facts," Sipple said.

The Nebraska Attorney General's Office declined to comment Thursday.

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