- Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2015

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Following a U.S. Supreme Court mandate to consider an offender’s age, a New Orleans state judge on Friday sentenced a man convicted of killing a good Samaritan who tried to stop a carjacking to 45 years in prison with a chance of parole after that.

On Friday, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Darryl Derbigny chose to spare 21-year-old Kendall Harrison a guaranteed life prison sentence and granted him the chance of parole after 45 years.

Harrison was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Harry “Mike” Ainsworth, who died in front of two of his children in January 2012 in Algiers Point, a New Orleans neighborhood.

The New Orleans Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1FTbLv0 ) Derbigny followed a mandate handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court that has forced Louisiana judges to consider sparing youthful offenders the finality of life in prison without parole.

The mandate by the Supreme Court was handed down five months after the slaying. Harrison was six months shy of his 18th birthday when he shot Ainsworth through the windshield of a vehicle he was trying to steal.

The Supreme Court in a 5-4 opinion outlawed automatic life sentences without parole for those who were under 18 when the crime took place. The court said that “youth matters for the purposes of meting out the law’s most serious punishments,” and that judges must first weigh a defendant’s age before denying him a shot at eventual release.

Derbigny held a required hearing in July in which Harrison took the witness stand and fielded direct questions from Ainsworth’s loved ones, repeatedly claiming he was falsely convicted. The judge also ordered a report from state parole officials, who recommended life without parole for Harrison.

The judge decided differently, though he chastised Harrison on Friday.

Ainsworth, a 44-year-old handyman who had sprinted toward the robbery in progress while walking his two boys to the bus stop on the morning of Jan. 25, 2012, was hit twice. His sons, then ages 9 and 11, witnessed the shooting.

Christopher Bowman, a spokesman for Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, said it was just the second time since the Supreme Court ruling that a Criminal District Court judge has handed an eligible juvenile convict less than mandatory life.

Attorney Lionel “Lon” Burns, who has represented Harrison, said Derbigny “had mercy on him.”

“Everything else is stacked against him,” Burns said of his client. “It provides the guy with some hope.”


Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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