- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 20, 2018

The teenager accused of the massacre at a Texas high school Friday could be out of prison in 40 years and will definitely not be executed.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis is 17 and the Supreme Court has barred both the death penalty and life without parole as cruel and unusual punishment for criminals under 18, according to a legal analysis by USA Today.

The 2005 case of Roper v. Simmons said juveniles could not be executed, even if they’re legally considered adults in their state, because they are too immature and their brains underdeveloped. The 2012 ruling in Miller v. Alabama extended the logic to permanent imprisonment.

“The courts ruled based on the idea that those 17 and younger don’t have the cognitive development to appreciate right from wrong,” said Michael Radelet, a University of Colorado at Boulder sociology professor. “The ruling is about the development of the juvenile brain.”

According to authorities, Pagourtzis carefully planned and executed the attack on Santa Fe High School, detailing it out on his computer and in a written journal. Ten people were killed and 13 wounded.

Then-Gov. Rick Perry commuted all of Texas juvenile death sentences after the Roper case, but he simultaneously signed into law a bill barring parole for juveniles convicted of capital murder. That bill was struck down in Miller.

In 40 years, the longest period Texas law permits before first consideration of parole, according to USA Today, Pagourtzis will be 57.

However, Mr. Radelet cautioned to USA Today, “even then a parole board might not agree he’s not totally damaged or able to make a satisfactory transition into the community in 2058.”

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