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Wisconsin Man Convicted Of Murder Could Be Eligible For Parole After U.S. Supreme Court Ruling

High Court Rules Juveniles Convicted Of Murder Have A Right To Petition For Parole

By
my_southborough (CC-BY-ND)

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday could mean a chance at freedom for Wisconsin man serving life without parole for a killing that he committed when he was 14.

The 6-3 court decision in a Louisiana case grants juveniles sentenced to life without parole for a murder committed when they were under 18 the chance to petition for a reduced sentence.


Omer Ninham. Wisconsin Department of Corrections

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Omer Ninham, now 32 years old, is the only Wisconsin inmate the ruling could affect. He was sentenced for throwing 13-year-old Zong Vang off the top of a Green Bay parking ramp to his death in 1998.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Ninham’s petition for sentence reduction, but his most recent appeal is pending in Brown County Circuit Court.

Early this month, Judge Kendall Kelley put the case on hold anticipating that this week’s high court ruling could affect Ninham’s case.

Ninham is represented by an attorney from the Wisconsin Innocence Project and Bryan Stevenson of the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in this week’s ruling that juvenile murderers “must be given the opportunity to show their crime did not reflect irreparable corruption; and if it did not, their hope for some years of life outside prison walls must be restored.”

The ruling doesn’t guarantee parole for men like Ninham, but it could have a bearing on Kelley’s decision on whether he might someday be eligible.

Ninham didn’t commit the crime alone. Richard Crapeau, who was 13 at the time, helped Ninham throw Vang to his death. He was sentenced to life also, but he is eligible for parole after serving 50 years.

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