First of its kind sentencing hearing underway for Flint teen - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

First of its kind sentencing hearing underway for Flint teen

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(07/26/13) - A first of its kind court hearing is underway, in Genesee County, following the United States Supreme Court decision on juvenile sentences last summer.

Mandatory life in prison, without parole, sentences for juveniles were declared unconstitutional.

A Flint teenager is the first to test what happens in light of that.

Juwan Wickware was 16 at the time of the crime - 16 when Flint pizza delivery man Michael Nettles was shot and killed in 2010.

Wickware was convicted of first degree murder in August.

Genesee County Circuit Court Judge Archie Hayman is in the process of hearing testimony and analyzing the case to determine what sentence is best for him.

Wickware is 19 now and could still be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

His attorney, Jodi Hemingway, is advocating for a term of years in prison rather than life in prison - even with the option of parole.

"I think there's evidence he can be rehabilitated," Hemingway said. "The Supreme Court has said that juveniles, people who are children at the times their offenses are committed, need to be given a meaningful opportunity for release at some point."

Wickware's mother testified, often crying in court, and said her son is not a bad child.

Psychologist Karen Clark, who examined Wickware last month, testified that he struggled socially and at home. His father wasn't really part of his life. Wickware also struggled academically, Clark said.  She said he is functionally illiterate and had an IQ of 71 when she saw him last month.

"He needs small class structure. I think he needs the formality of school and life skills, coping, peer counseling, being held accountable for his actions," she told Hayman.

Prosecutors will push for life in prison without parole.

The hearing continues Aug. 9.

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