Kids who killed could get a break

August 14, 2017

The Standard-Speaker
By Terrie Morgan-Besecker

A drifter convicted of brutally killing two people 18 years ago has a better chance at freedom because of a new court ruling.

Kenneth Crawford was a 15-year-old from Charelston, Missouri, in July 1999 when he and another man shot and killed Diana Algar, 39, and her friend, Jose Molina, 33, at the Paradise Campground in Hollenback Twp. He lost multiple appeals of his conviction and life without parole sentence.

A recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling makes it nearly impossible to ensure Crawford, now 34, and other juvenile killers remain behind bars for the rest of their lives, some attorneys say.


“The Supreme Court made it very plain, there are a very limited number of cases where life without parole is appropriate for a juvenile,” said Mark Sheppard, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “Those cases should be few and far between.”


“I think science . . . has made it very clear the juvenile brain is not mature and the decision-making process is very different,” Sheppard said. “We shouldn’t, as a society, assume these defendants are beyond saving.”


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