Eric Querrey was 15 when he shot and killed 16-year-old Stacy Halferty. He received the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
But in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court found in Miller v. Alabama that juveniles are too young to be subject to mandatory minimums and courts must consider a minor's potential for rehabilitation. As a result Yvette Louisell, who murdered a man when she was 17, was resentenced to 25 years in prison. Querrey was resentenced to life with parole after 35 years.
The state successfully appealed Louisell's new sentence. The Iowa Supreme Court agreed that just because someone is a juvenile at the time of their crime, it doesn’t mean a judge can disregard state law. And today the high court ordered Querrey to be resentenced, which means life without parole is again on the table.
"Supreme Court said, 'No you don't have the choice, District Court Judge, that's up to the legislature,'" explains attorney Gordon Allen, who represents Louisell as several incarcerated Iowans who committed serious crimes as minors. "You either have a choice of life without parole, or life with parole. And you can't pick a term of years out of the air."
Miller presents a unique situation for Querrey, as the court will evaluate his ability for rehabilitation at age 39 for a crime he committed as a teen.
In 1993 Querrey lost an appeal to the state Supreme Court. He argued that he should have been tried in juvenile court, not as an adult, and that the court was wrong to suppress testimony that suggested Stacy Halferty’s father was responsible for her death.