Killer sentenced at 14 can petition for release

TACOMA — Now 40 years old, a Pierce County killer who was just 14 when he was ordered to serve life without parole has been resentenced and can petition for release.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Larkin erased Barry Massey’s original sentence on Friday and resentenced him to 25 years to life.

The News Tribune reported that makes Massey eligible to petition the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board for release. He’s already served more than 25 years.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Miller v. Alabama, ruled it was unconstitutional for juveniles to receive automatic sentences of life without parole.

The high court held that such sentences constituted cruel and unusual punishment for people whose brains still were developing and who might not have the judgment to always know the impact of their actions.

The state Legislature last year passed a law eliminating mandatory life sentences for juveniles convicted of aggravated first-degree murder. Instead, the law now makes people convicted of the crime before they turn 16 eligible for parole after 25 years.

The law was made retroactive.

Massey was 13 and co-defendant Michael Harris was 15 when they entered Paul Wang’s shop in Steilacoom in January 1987 and killed him before robbing the store.

Both were prosecuted as adults, convicted of aggravated first-degree murder, and sentenced to life without parole.

Massey apologized Friday to Wang’s family.

Harris has not petitioned for relief under the new law, which went into effect last Sunday.

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