- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

MONROE, Wash. (AP) - A man who was 14 years old when he was sentenced to life without parole for a 1987 murder walked free from a Washington state prison on Tuesday, the first beneficiary of a state law allowing such juvenile offenders to petition for release after a quarter-century.

Barry Massey, now 42, was “appropriately happy and excited” as he left Monroe Corrections Center after 28 years in prison, his lawyer, Maureen Devlin, told Northwest News Network (http://bit.ly/1PDk8Bn ). His wife, a former corrections officer he married while incarcerated, met him at the gates.

“They’ve been waiting for this moment for a very, very long time and it’s hard to believe that it’s finally here,” Devlin said.

Massey was 13 when he and an older boy, Michael Harris, shot and stabbed Steilacoom marina owner Paul Wang. They were sentenced to life without parole. At the time, Massey was the youngest person in the United States to receive such a sentence.

But in 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed mandatory life sentences for juveniles. Washington lawmakers responded two years later by allowing juvenile lifers to petition for release after 25 years behind bars. The law presumes release unless the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board finds the individual is “more likely than not” to commit a new crime.

Washington state had 29 prisoners who were sentenced to life without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles. Massey’s case was the first to be reviewed, and last June the board granted him conditional release.

“In his hearing you could just see this is not the 13-year-old who killed that man,” then-board chairwoman Lynne DeLano said. “It was a brutal murder, but … this is a man who has changed his life around.”

The family of Massey’s victim has long opposed Massey’s release. “Why should this murderer be given the chance to have something that he took away from me and my two children?” Paul Wang’s widow, Shirley, told the state’s clemency board in 2010.

Massey’s older accomplice is scheduled to be released this August.

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