Friday, October 26, 2007

Sentence Upheld for Fla. Child Killer

By BRIAN SKOLOFF Associated Press Writer

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ An appeals court has upheld a 30-year probation violation sentence for Lionel Tate, who for a time was the youngest person to be sentenced to life in a U.S. prison.

Wednesday’s ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal sets the stage for Tate’s trial on robbery charges that could carry another life term.

Tate, 20, had sought to have the sentence thrown out based on procedural mistakes, his attorney, Jim Lewis, said Thursday.

Tate was 12 at the time of the 1999 beating death of 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick and became the youngest person in modern U.S. history to receive a life sentence. His lawyers initially claimed Tate killed the girl while imitating pro wrestling moves.

An appeals court overturned his first-degree murder conviction in 2004 after determining it wasn’t clear whether Tate understood the charges against him. He was freed from prison under a deal in which he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 10 years’ probation.

But in May 2005, police said he robbed a pizza delivery man, and he was found to be in possession of a gun even before that, a violation of his probation.

Tate initially pleaded guilty to the robbery and unrelated gun possession charge in return for a sentence of 10 to 30 years. Against the advice of his lawyers, he withdrew the plea in the robbery case but not the gun charge, and was sentenced to 30 years.

Tate’s new attorneys said they plan to file another appeal of his probation violation sentence based on ineffective counsel.

”We’re disappointed, but it’s not the end,” Lewis said.

Prosecutors declined to comment.

No date has been set for the robbery trial.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am heartsick and frankly quite suprised, the Judge did forget to swear everyone in so it should have been reversed-
God help my poor Lionel, I don't know what I am going to say to him to keep him from despairing over this news-
Please pray for him..................