A man in southern Alabama has been sentenced to an astonishing 624 years in prison, following his conviction on several counts of rape, sodomy and kidnapping of a woman.
Birmingham criminal defense lawyers know that the case has received national attention due to the eye-popping sentence. But in fact, it’s not even the longest prison term ever handed down in the U.S.
Alabama actually holds the title for the longest prison sentence for a single charge. In 1981, a Tuscaloosa judge sentenced a man convicted of killing his wife to 10,000 years. That man got two additional life sentences tacked on top of that for the murder of his mother-in-law and a college student.
The longest-ever prison sentence in the country for conviction on multiple charges was a man in Oklahoma, convicted as a child rapist and sentenced to 30,000 years behind bars.
In the most recent case, the defendant is a 25-year-old from Dothan. He was convicted of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of first-degree rape and three counts of first-degree sodomy. He received 90 years for each of those six counts. Additionally, he was convicted for first-degree theft of property and first-degree bail-jumping. For that latter two, he got another 30 years.
The incident in question happened in 2006. However, it’s not his first conviction on rape. He faces another 100-year sentence stemming from an earlier burglary/rape. Additionally, he was convicted of sexual battery in Florida, where he received a 20-year sentence.
Just prior to receiving his sentence, the defendant told the judge he didn’t believe he’d received a fair trial. He said he and his attorney had just two months to prepare, and accused one of the jurors of sleeping throughout the proceeding.
If these allegations are true, they would certainly be the basis of a sound appeal.
Obviously, no person is going to live long enough to serve an entire sentence of such magnitude – so what’s the point?
From a judge’s perspective, it’s sort of like an insurance policy that the defendant won’t ever be released on parole.
In most states, even if you are given a 20-year sentence, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll serve 20 years. With good behavior and other credits, you could be out years sooner.
But for example, in the case of the man sentenced to 30,000 years, barring a successful appeal, he won’t be eligible for parole until he is 108 years-old.
Sometimes, plea deals can be a good way to go in these extreme cases because your attorney may be able to negotiate a sentence with prosecutors that would allow you the chance for parole. Still, judges have a fair amount of discretion, and don’t necessarily have to honor that deal, though they often do. In other cases, appealing a sentence and a judge’s use of his discretion, is another possibility.
Because there is no guarantee, one tactic defense lawyers will take following a conviction is to show mitigating circumstances. For example, if you were abused as a child or came from a broken home, those may be factors taken into consideration prior to sentencing.
Given that Alabama takes such a harsh approach to those convicted of sex crimes, it is critical that you hire a defense attorney with experience in handling these types of serious cases.