By Tom Davidson
Herald Staff Writer
Jeremy Melvin and Anthony Machicote are each serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for the 2003 killing of a night supervisor at George Junior Republic in Pine Township.
But each man wants the judge who imposed the sentence on them to reconsider the sentence in light of their ages at the time the killing occurred.
Melvin was 16 and Machicote was 17 when they ambushed and killed Wayne Urey on Nov. 10, 2003.
They pleaded guilty to the crime and were sentenced to life without parole in 2005.
In the time since, each man has tried to withdraw their pleas or have their sentences changed, something the courts have denied.
But a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court case complicated the matter when in Miller vs. Alabama, the court ruled that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional for juvenile offenders.
The ruling doesn’t mean that life sentences aren’t allowable in some cases, and it left to each state to figure out how it will be applied.
In Pennsylvania, the matter of deciding whether the decision is retroactive and applies in cases like Melvin’s and Machicote’s has yet to be made.
This means a further wait behind bars for the men.
Melvin’s now 26 and Machicote’s 27.
On Monday, they were transported to Mercer County Common Pleas Court President Judge Thomas R. Dobson’s court, where Dobson was prepared to resentence them under Dobson’s reading of the Supreme Court decision.
Dobson reasons the ruling can be applied retroactively.
But Mercer County District Attorney Robert G. Kochems disagreed and will appeal to Superior Court before a resentence hearing will take place.
The high court was “working in a prospective manner only,” Kochems told Dobson.
The appeal means the men will await higher court rulings on the matter before any new sentence hearing is held, Machicote’s lawyer, Tedd Nesbitt, said.
“Mr. Machicote is hoping the judge would consider his youth in this,” Nesbitt said.
Melvin’s lawyer, David Chontos, said he was glad for the result of the brief hearing Monday because it allows for the possibility of a resentencing that considers the age of the men when the crime was committed.
The state Supreme Court is dealing with the matter in similar cases that will decide how the law is applied in Pennsylvania.
Until a decision is made, the men are serving life sentences for their crimes without the possibility of parole.