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Name: People v. Lewis
Case #: A134480
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 12/16/2013

Minor’s 115-years-to-life sentence for homicide and nonhomicide offenses constituted cruel and unusual punishment, but trial court may impose de facto life sentence on remand if it makes a finding of “irreparable corruption.” Appellant, a minor tried as an adult, was convicted of rapes, digital penetration, and murder with a gun enhancement, and sentenced to 115-years-to-life. He contended that the sentence violated the Eighth Amendment as it was the functional equivalent of an LWOP sentence. Held: Remanded. When a juvenile defendant is sentenced for both homicide and nonhomicide offenses, the constitutionality of the sentence must be determined by looking at the sentence as whole, as opposed to breaking it down to the homicide and nonhomicide sentences, because a defendant obtains a single parole eligibility date based on the entire sentence. Here, appellant’s 115-years-to-life aggregate sentence constituted a defacto LWOP because his first parole eligibility date would fall beyond his life expectancy. (People v. Caballero (2012) 55 Cal.4th 262.) While an LWOP sentence may not be imposed against a juvenile offender for nonhomicide offenses, it may be imposed for a homicide offense against a rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption without violating the Eighth Amendment. (Miller v. Alabama (2012) 132 S.Ct. 2455, 2469.) Because appellant committed not only a homicide but also three separate one strike sexual offenses, a court could find that appellant’s offenses reflect such irreparable corruption to warrant a de facto LWOP sentence. The matter was remanded because the trial court did not have the opportunity to make this determination. If the trial court does not make an irreparable corruption finding on remand, it must set a parole eligibility date within appellant’s lifetime.