- Associated Press - Friday, March 3, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The youngest of five people convicted in a 1988 arson fire and explosion that killed six Kansas City firefighters could be released from prison soon, after a judge reduced his original life sentence on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. ruled that Bryan Sheppard, 45, should have his sentence reduced to 20 years in prison. Because Sheppard has already served 22 years, he could be released from prison at any time, but details of when that might happen weren’t immediately available, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/2mkhKc4 ).

Sheppard was 17 when the Nov. 29, 1988, arson fire caused a truckload of ammonium nitrate to detonate at a construction site in Kansas City. He was the only juvenile defendant.

He was granted a new sentencing hearing after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for juveniles were unconstitutional unless a judge first considered their individual situations.

“There is no denying that the crime which the defendants were convicted of resulted in a tragic loss of six lives,” Gaitan said in a written order filed after Friday’s hearing. “However, the court also cannot ignore the statements made by the trial judge, that he did not believe that the defendants intentionally with malice and forethought set out to kill the firefighters.”

Gaitan also cited testimony that Sheppard was raised in a dysfunctional home and that he has attention deficit disorder and dropped out of high school. He said this contributed to Sheppard being susceptible to others’ influence and supports a sentence reduction.

The defendants have long maintained their innocence, but a hearing in February addressed only Sheppard’s sentencing, not whether he was guilty or innocent.

Prosecutors argued that Sheppard should be resentenced to life in prison because of the seriousness of the crime.

___

Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide