Convict Says Life Sentence Discriminates Against Young
The 42-year-old Helmenstein was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for a deadly liquor store robbery.
BISMARCK, N.D.–A man who was convicted of murder 20 years ago is arguing that a life sentence discriminates against younger people.
Shawn Helmenstein is seeking to clarify his parole eligibility date. The 42-year-old Helmenstein was sentenced in 2000 to life in prison with the possibility of parole for a deadly liquor store robbery.
The Bismarck Tribune reports that South Central District Judge James Hill appeared skeptical of Helmenstein’s argument, but said he’d consider it.
Helmenstein argued a 22-year-old sentenced to life with the possibility of parole would have to serve more than 46 years before becoming eligible for release, but a person convicted at age 42 would be eligible after less than 31 years.
Hill said he would modify Helmenstein’s sentencing judgment to include his life expectancy. That will help calculate Helmenstein’s parole eligibility date.