- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) - A man sentenced as a teenager to life in prison for killing a 4-year-old child is now eligible for parole.

Christopher Segerstrom, now 45, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in the 1986 death of Barbara Thompson. Investigators said the girl was sexually assaulted, hit on the head with a rock and suffocated in a wooded area near the University of Arkansas, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/2p1ykjz ) reported.

Segerstrom was 15 at the time of the crime. But since his conviction, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Arkansas Supreme Court have ruled that juveniles can’t be sentenced to life in prison without parole. In order to comply with the rulings, state law was revised to allow a sentence of life with the possibility of parole after 30 years.

Segerstrom was resentenced Wednesday, and because he was given credit at his original sentencing for 11 months jail time served, he’s now eligible to seek parole. His attorney, Kent McLemore, said the new state law didn’t impede a new sentencing hearing for Segerstrom.

Prosecutor Matt Durrett said he will oppose Segerstrom’s parole.

“As long as I am here and upright, I’m going to do everything I can to keep him from ever breathing free air again,” Durrett said. “What he did to Barbara Thompson is just indicative of someone who needs to be locked up forever.”

The prosecutor noted that the process has been difficult for Barbara’s family.

“It’s still confusing because this is a family that was told 30 years ago that this guy was never, ever going to get out again,” Durrett said. “There’s a lot of confusion, a lot of emotions.”

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Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.nwaonline.com

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