Friday, April 15, 2016

Supreme court considers taking case of man given life in prison for growing pot

Joanna Walters
April 15, 2016

The US supreme court is poised on Friday to decide whether to take on the case of a 76-year-old disabled army veteran handed a sentence of life in prison without parole for growing marijuana in his back yard to alleviate his own health problems.

If the court does not review the case, Lee Carroll Brooker is destined to die behind bars even though judges in his native Alabama have declared this was not an appropriate punishment.


But in announcing the state supreme court’s decision, Alabama’s chief justice, Roy Moore, issued a lengthy explanation pointing out that the original trial judge, Larry Anderson, had said: “If the court could sentence you to a term that is less than life without parole, I would. However, the law is very specific … there is no discretion.”

And Moore himself added that Brooker’s sentence was “excessive and unjustified” and urged the Alabama legislature to “revisit the statutory sentencing scheme” for the state.


Steensland submitted material during his client’s trial and sentencing proceedings that showed he was in the US army for nine years after joining up at the age of 17 and was frequently posted abroad, coming under enemy fire on tours in Lebanon and the Dominican Republic.

He rose to the rank of sergeant in the 82nd airborne division and was awarded the combat infantryman badge for participating in active ground combat, according to court documents.


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