A 71-year-old Louisiana inmate whose case led to a landmark Supreme Court decision on juvenile-offender sentences was denied parole on Monday, more than a half-century after he killed a sheriff's deputy at age 17. A three-member panel from the state parole board voted 2 to 1 to keep Henry Montgomery imprisoned, per the AP. The hearing was his first chance at freedom since his conviction decades ago. He now must wait another two years before he can request parole again. A vote to free him would have had to be unanimous. The Supreme Court's January 2016 decision in Montgomery's case opened the door for roughly 2,000 other juvenile offenders to argue for their release after receiving mandatory life-without-parole sentences.
Montgomery has served 54 years in prison for fatally shooting East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputy Charles Hurt in 1963. Montgomery initially was sentenced to death after a jury convicted him. After the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled he didn't get a fair trial and threw out his murder conviction in 1966, he was retried, found "guilty without capital punishment," and automatically sentenced to life without parole. In 2012, however, the US Supreme Court ruled that sentencing juvenile homicide offenders to life without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional "cruel and unusual" punishment. In January 2016, the justices made their decision retroactive, deciding in Montgomery v. Louisiana to extend its ban on such sentences to people already in prison.