PIERRE, S.D. – (DRG News) A judge has granted a re-sentencing hearing for a man who was given life without possibility of parole for the 1996 killing of cab driver Michael Hare near Fort Pierre. Paul Dean Jensen, Jr. of Pierre was 14 at the time that Hare was killed. Jensen argued that his sentence is illegal under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that banned mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles. He filed a motion in July asking for a correction in his sentence.
At this morning’s hearing at the Hughes County Courthouse in Pierre, Jensen’s lawyer, Jeff Larson of Sioux Falls asked Judge John Brown to look at Jensen’s case and consider that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sentences like Jensen’s are cruel and unusual for young offenders.
Stanley County State’s Attorney Tom P. Maher argued that Jensen’s conviction and sentence was lawful in 1996 and is still lawful today.
Although he said that returning the case to the courtroom will bring back hurts that the families of Hare and Jensen have gone through; he said he feels compelled to grant a re-sentencing hearing. Jensen’s lawyer was ordered to prepare paperwork and have it filed by January 3. A court date will be set at a later date.
Jensen’s co-defendant who was 16 in 1996, Shawn Cameron Springer, pleaded guilty to kidnapping for his role in Hare’s killing and robbery. He was sentenced to 261 years in prison at that time. Earlier this year, he asked to be re-sentenced, as well. This summer, a judge refused to set aside Springer’s sentence-saying it was legal.
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