The man who fatally shot Syracuse Police Officer Wallie Howard, Junior in 1990 will be eligible for parole in six years after a ruling today by a Federal Judge in Utica to shorten his sentence to 31 years. Robert Lawrence faced life in prison but, became eligible for re-sentencing in 2012 following a U-S Supreme Court ruling.
The court deemed mandatory life prison sentences given to juveniles were unconstitutional. So, will other youthful offenders of similar crimes in New York State also have the opportunity for a second chance? Last week in his State of the State Address, Governor Andrew Cuomo said that juvenile justice laws are outdated.
“Under New York State Law, 16 & 17 year-olds can be tried and charged as adults. Only one other State in the Nation does that. It’s the State of North Carolina. It’s not right, it’s not fair. We must raise the age. Let’s form a commission on youth public safety and let’s get it done this year.”
Officer Howard’s killer was 16 years-old at the time of the crime, he’s now 40 years-old. Members of Howard’s family were present in the courtroom today in Utica including his Mother, Son and Sister. Roughly 50 Syracuse Police Officers also attended.