Two Anderson youths convicted for their roles in the shooting deaths of a couple they robbed of money and marijuana may someday be freed from prison after the Indiana Supreme Court significantly reduced their sentences Monday.
In separate unanimous rulings, the court reduced sentences for Jacob Fuller and Martez Brown. Fuller was 15 and Brown 16 when they were arrested along with ringleader Na-Son Smith, then 18, and charged with the murder of Stephen Streeter and Keya Prince in their Anderson home.
Writing both opinions, Justice Robert Rucker found that Brown’s and Fuller’s 150-year sentences were within Madison Circuit Judge David Happe’s discretion, but the court’s review “ultimately boils down to the appellate court’s 'collective sense of what is appropriate, not a product of a deductive reasoning process,'" Rucker wrote, citing Cardwell v. State, 895 N.E.2d 1219, 1224 (Ind. 2008).
“We conclude that Brown should receive … a total aggregate sentence of 80 years imprisonment,” Rucker wrote in Martez Brown v. State of Indiana, 48S02-1406-CR-363.
In Jacob Fuller v.State of Indiana, 48S02-1406-CR-364, the court followed similar reasoning but remanded for Fuller to be resentenced to 85 years in prison.
"Although only a year older than Fuller, Brown unlike Fuller was an accomplice — a factor that we found particularly important. Instead Fuller was one of the actual shooters," Rucker wrote. The record shows Fuller was the first to shoot during the robbery, firing a gun into Streeter's chest, because he feared the victims might recognize the robbers.
Imposing the maximum allowable 150-year sentence "means denial of hope; it means that good behavior and character improvement are immaterial; it means that whatever the future might hold in store for the mind and spirit of the [juvenile] convict, he will remain in prison for the rest of his days," the court held, citing Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S.