ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) – The 150-year sentences that two teenagers received for the fatal shootings of a central Indiana couple were excessive, the state’s high court said Monday in unanimous opinions that call for the prison time to be substantially reduced.
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled that Martez Brown should be sentenced to 80 years for the November 2010 slayings of Stephen Streeter, 25, and Keya Prince, 24, during a robbery in Prince’s Anderson home. The case will be returned to the trial court for resentencing.
The court said Brown should receive two concurrent 60-year terms for murder plus 20 years for the robbery in which several thousand dollars in cash, several pounds of marijuana, two video game systems, two televisions and a gun were taken. With good behavior and sentence adjustments for schooling, Brown could end up serving less than 40 years.
In a separate opinion, the court said Brown’s co-defendant Jacob Fuller’s sentence should be reduced to 85 years.
Madison Circuit Judge David Happe said he had considered the lack of remorse and cooperation by Brown, who was 16 at the time of the crimes, in determining the punishment of two consecutive, 65-year terms for the murders, plus the robbery sentence.
However, the state Supreme Court noted Brown had given police a detailed account of the crimes after he was arrested and that statement provided the only non-circumstantial evidence at his trial. It further noted he was an accomplice and likely did not do any of the shooting that killed the victims.
Justice Robert Rucker wrote both opinions for the high court. In the one referring to Brown, Rucker wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that “juveniles are less culpable than adults and therefore are less deserving of the most severe punishments.”
In the opinion on Fuller, who was 15 at the time of the crimes, Rucker wrote that the teen was found to be one of the shooters and deserved a longer sentence.
The attorney representing Brown and Fuller didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, said prosecutors “respect the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision revising the sentences which means both defendants still will spend substantial terms in prison.”