State Supreme court says 90 year sentence for juvenile is okay

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of the sentence that will keep a triple murderer in prison for at least 90 years.

The case, State of Minnesota v. Mahdi Hassan Ali, was argued Nov. 1 and the decision was handed down Wednesday with only a single justice dissenting.

“The decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court today is the correct decision and pretty much what we argued,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “This is not a single murder, this is three murders and not giving him 30 years in prison for each one, you get two for free.”

On Jan. 6, 2010, the 16-year-old Ali robbed the Seward Market at gun point. When a customer walked in through the door, Ali shot him twice. Ali fled the store, but returned a short time later, killing a store clerk and another man.

After his conviction, he was sentenced to life without parole for one of the murders and life with the possibility of parole on the other two. However, in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that no juveniles can be sentenced to life without parole without a special hearing on that sentence.

In 2014, the Minnesota Supreme Court found that the two life with parole sentences given to Ali were constitutional, but ruled that the third sentence of life without parole was unconstitutional under the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision. The Minnesota Supreme Court directed the district judge to resentence Ali.

Agreeing with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office’s recommendation, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill imposed three sentences of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years and ran those three sentences consecutively. That meant that the earliest Ali could leave prison would be after serving 90 years.

Ali appealed last year and argued that the 90 year sentence was the “functional equivalent” of life without parole.

In its decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court has not ruled on whether its ban on life without parole for juveniles should be extended to long, consecutive sentences. Further, numerous state supreme courts and federal appeals courts that has looked at long consecutive sentences for juveniles have ruled that they are constitutional.

Supreme Court Ruling (PDF)