Jovon Knox, who was convicted of Second Degree Murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for an incident that occurred when he was 17 year old, has had his sentence vacated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court recently held, in Miller v. Alabama (2012), that a sentence of life without parole (LWOP) for a crime committed by a juvenile violates the Eighth Amendments prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. In light of this holding, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court just vacated Knox’s sentence and remanded to the Trial Court for resentencing, with instructions for the Court to consider:
- His age at the time of the offense
- His diminished culpability and heightened capacity for change
- The extent of his participation in the crime
- His emotional maturity and development
- His potential for rehabilitation
One might ask, since Pennsylvania law still requires a sentence of life without parole for any Second Degree Murder conviction, how the trial court can come back with any sentence different from its first sentence?
Jovon Knox and his brother, Devon Knox, planned to rob a car with a driver inside. Although it was probably neither brothers’ intention for anyone to get hurt, Devon ended up shooting and killing the driver of the car. Jovon was initially charged with First Degree Murder, which the jury acquitted him of, as the killing wasn’t premeditated. Because it happened during the commission of a felony, he was convicted of Second Degree Murder (also referred to as Felony Murder). He was also convicted of attempted robbery of a motor vehicle, conspiracy, and carrying a firearm without a license, and he was sentenced to LWOP.
Knox will be resentenced later this year.