Prisoner asks for reduced sentence - FOX 35 News Orlando

Prisoner asks for reduced sentence

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Because of a Supreme Court ruling, around a dozen juveniles who received life sentences in Brevard County will be getting re-sentenced.

Susan Thompson said it was "a day of new beginnings, hope" for her son, Mark Anthony Smith. He was sentenced to life in prison for three different armed burglaries in Titusville, which involved a kidnapping and aggravated assault.  A judge will reconsider that sentence during a hearing Wednesday.

"I hope and pray that justice will be served," she said.  "Hopefully, he will be out soon.  Maybe in the next couple of years, not life.  Anything but life."
Smith, now 26, was only 16 when he received a life sentence.  While prosecutors said it was a heinous crime that deserves the maximum penalty, released prisoner advocate Larry Lawton disagrees.

"To sentence any 16 year old to life in prison without parole is totally wrong," he said. 

Back in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that a juvenile who hasn't committed a murder should not be sentenced to life.  

"He admitted to me he was a good burglar.  He was good at picking locks," said Lawton who  believes the life sentence that Smith received was too harsh.  He questions why the system is keeping a man like this behind bars for so long.  "Financially, it costs $28,000 a year to house that man.  If that man has life without parole and lives till he's 70 to 80 years old, how much money is he costing society for what? Do we really believe this man's life isn't good?"

But prosecutors hope Smith spends at least 40 years in prison. They said he tried kidnapping an 11-year-old girl by threatening her with a knife. They said he also beat up a 15-year-old girl after breaking into her bedroom. They're worried he could be a threat to the public if he's let out too early.

Meanwhile, Smith's mother has a message to the victims. "I pray for their forgiveness for me and my son, and I know he is truly sorry, and if they could know what a great man he has become," she said.  "I feel everyone deserves a second change."

Prosecutors said the victims will be at the hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the Courthouse in Titusville on Wednesday.

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