Life sentences for minors could be changed

- Lolita Barthel was convicted of murder and robbery at age 19. Now, she is in her late 30s and looking for a second chance.

On Tuesday, in court, Barthel prepared to be re-sentenced. That's because the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that sentencing juveniles to life in prison was cruel and unusual punishment.

Barthel is one of the first defendants in Hillsborough County to qualify for re-sentencing after the high court's ruling.

Attorney Anthony Rickman said the judge will hear from a lot of witnesses and experts before making a decidion.  

"You may see experts on the defense side, and saying based on this child's upbringing, based on her characteristics as a child, she didn't appreciate or understand what she was doing wrong," Rickman explained.

Barthel is not the only defendant facing the new sentencing. Kendrick Morris was convicted of a brutal rape outside the Bloomingdale library in Valrico eight years ago. He may also get a new sentence.

But Rickman said, just because Morris gets a do-over, doesn't mean his life sentence will be reduced. The judge will weigh a lot of factors, including how his attack left the young victim with the inability to see, talk or walk on her own.

"One of the big things the judge will consider is what impact this sentence will have on the victim, so in a hearing like this, we may have the victim coming forward and saying, 'this offense was so heinous, my life has changed forever as a result of this defendant,'" explained Rickman

Sentencing dates for Morris and Barthel have not been determined yet. 

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