Is 90 year sentence cruel and unusual punishment for a 17-year-old convicted of murder?

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Should a 90 year prison sentence be considered as cruel and unusual punishment for a teenager who was convicted of murder?

That’s the question before the South Dakota Supreme Court.

Tuesday an attorney for Carlos Quevedo, who was 17 when he stabbed a Rapid City convenience store clerk 38 times in 2017 in a robbery gone bad, argued that the 90 year sentence violates his 8th Amendment right.

“The facts are ugly in this case; it starts out sad and ends sad,” Quevedo’s attorney Paul Eisenbraun said.

Quevedo’s attorney told South Dakota Supreme Court justices that Quevedo was raised in a violent home surrounded by drug addicts.

The prosecution agrees.

“His family life was dysfunctional, his parents were on drugs, he had to grow up faster than most kids,” Assistant Attorney General Ann Meyer said.

By law juveniles cannot be sentenced to life in prison without parole, it’s unconstitutional.

But an attorney for the state says Quevedo’s 90 year sentence is not cruel and unusual punishment, given the nature of his violent crime.

“It’s certainly not the degree of humiliation and harm and anguish the victim suffered here with 38 stab wounds and bleeding out in the parking lot,” Meyer said.

Quevedo’s attorney says the 90 year sentence doesn’t allow his client to be rehabilitated.

“Rehabilitation for a juvenile offender is always everyone’s hope I think, but a very lengthy term of years lies in the face of rehabilitation,” Eisenbraun said.

The state disagreed.

“He has a light at the end of the tunnel a glimmer of hope at age 62, now it’s up to him, he’s got an incentive to reform,” Meyer said.

The justices will make a ruling on whether or not Quevedo deserves to be resentenced at a later date.

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