State Judicial Building

The Iowa Supreme Court says the ban on mandatory life sentences for juveniles does not impact restitution levied in the same cases.

Daimonay Richardson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2013 when she was 15. She admitted to helping her boyfriend D’Anthony Curd stab Ronald Kunkle to death in his Cedar Rapids apartment. She was given a sentence not to exceed 50 years in prison, with 25 years suspended and ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution.

Richardson appealed the restitution amount saying should fall under Supreme Court ruling that banned mandatory prison sentences for all juveniles as unconstitutional.  The Iowa Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that a prison sentence is different from restitution.

The ruling says restitution is a matter of financial obligation, while the prison sentence is a matter of liberty and keeps someone from being rehabilitated. It says restitution repayment plans do take into account a person’s income and other circumstances.

The Supreme Court ruling says Richardson presents no data to her assertion that “juvenile offenders are not in the same position as adult offenders to afford restitution payments due to an inability to achieve a comparable level of earning capacity.” And says juvenile offenders like Richardson “could be in a better position than comparable adult offenders to repay $150,000 restitution because of their younger age and the shorter period for which they will be incarcerated.”

Justice Brent Appel wrote a dissenting opinion and was joined by Justices David Wiggins and Daryl Hect. The dissent says the court should have considered Richardson’s background and age in setting the restitution.

Here’s the full ruling: Juvenile restitution ruling PDF

The Supreme Court issued a similar ruling in the restitution appeal of Shannon Breeden of Davenport, who was 16 when she pleaded guilty to attempted homicide in 2002 and was ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution.