The Iowa Supreme Court today ruled district courts can only give those who committed crimes as juveniles life sentences with the chance of parole.The ruling threw out a 25-year district court sentence given former Iowa State University student Yvette Louisell who was convicted of murder as a 17-year-old.
The Iowa Supreme Court also advised the parole board to reconsider the way it looks at juvenile cases, as no one has been granted parole since being given the new lief with the chance of parole sentence. Louisell’s attorney Gordon Allen says that could help his client.
“I hope it does. I hope it does. I’ve got several other clients up there,” Allen says. The high court ruled that only the legislature can determine sentences, and a brand new law providing more options for the Story County judge wasn’t in effect in time of Louisell’s sentencing.
The whole issue came up after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles where not constitutional. The 25-year sentence meant Louisell was now eligible for parole, but Allen says things are now back to where they started. He isn’t sure that means parole anytime soon.
“I don’t think either way under this current parole board she has much of a chance,” Allen says. Louisell was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1987 death of Keith Stillwell. She had met Stillwell in an art class where she was a nude model.