TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — A new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday may be used in a Tulsa County murder case.
The ruling would make it easier to sentence minors convicted of murder to life in prison without possibility of parole.
The Supreme Court will no longer require that in order to sentence a juvenile to life in prison without the possibility of parole, a judge or jury would have to determine the defendant is both permanently incorrigible and irreparably corrupt.
Now, a minor can be sentenced based off circumstances of the case alone.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said this gives him the opportunity to get the possibility of parole revoked for Michael Bever, who was convicted of brutally stabbing his parents and three siblings to death in 2015 and attacking a sister who survived.
Michael was 15 at the time of the murders. His older brother, Robert Bever, pleaded guilty to the murders and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
The judge sentenced Michael to consecutively serve five life terms, each estimated at 45 years, in addition to 28 years for the assault. He currently has the possibility of parole, but not until he serves 85% of his more than 200-year sentence.
Kunzweiler released the following statement on Friday:
Yesterday the United States Supreme Court rendered a decision which clarified the standard upon which murder defendants who are under the age of 18 should be evaluated when it comes to sentencing. Specifically, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unnecessary to determine a murderer under 18 was “permanently incorrigible” in order to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. This is a significant ruling because the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the “permanently incorrigible” standard just prior to the completion of the Michael Bever jury trial. Mr. Bever was charged along with his brother Robert Bever with murdering five members of their immediate family and nearly killing a sixth. The jury in the Michael Bever case was instructed that he had to be found “permanently incorrigible” in order to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Our office will review the Supreme Court’s ruling to evaluate whether we have any avenue to revisit his sentence, which was five life sentences (with the possibility of parole). I have long stated that I do not believe that he should ever be released from prison based upon his role in the deaths of his family members. If there is a judicial path to reconsider his sentences, we will pursue it. Certainly, based upon this ruling I believe the Oklahoma legislature should enact legislation to correspond Oklahoma’s murder sentencing laws with the Supreme Court’s pronouncement.