Juvenile convicted of Davenport murder could get new sentence

A man convicted in 1994 of a Davenport murder, robbery and kidnapping he committed as a juvenile could get his sentence reduced.

The ruling comes after the decision that the U.S. Supreme Court ban on mandatory sentences for juveniles also applies to Iowa.  The ruling was reportedly made to protect juvenile offenders from cruel and unusual punishment.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad immediately commuted to 60 years in prison the sentences of 38 people convicted of murder as juveniles.  The Iowa Supreme Court said that still amounted to life in prison, and violated the federal court ruling.

Iowa Supreme Court Justice Edward Mansfield cautioned that state’s high court ruling could open the door to resentencing in as many as 425 cases.

Scott County Attorney Mike Walton said a Scott County murder case is one of those which will be reconsidered.

In May 1994, 17-year-old Jason Means was convicted of second degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping, criminal gang participation, conspiracy and possession of an offensive weapon in connection with the murder of 17-year-old Michelle Jensen.  Means’ sentences amounted to life plus 95 years in prison.

Walton said the Iowa Supreme Court ordered Wednesday, August 28, 2013 that Means be returned to Scott County District Court to be resentenced in accordance with Iowa’s new guidelines barring mandatory minimum sentences from being applied to juvenile cases.

Contrary to mandatory sentencing, the new guidelines allow the judge to consider information gathered about the juvenile’s socioeconomic background, criminal history, any possible substance abuse history and psychiatric evaluations.

The new sentencing hearings do not guarantee a reduced sentence would be ordered.