OLYMPIA — A man serving 28 years for a murder in a Lynnwood park can expect to get out of prison a few years early after his punishment was modified Thursday to comply with federal law.
Niguel Derome Jones was 17 in 1994 when he participated in a drug-related robbery that ended in a murder at Scriber Lake Park.
Jones was one of five young men held responsible. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and second-degree assault.
He was on track for release in 2019, but he petitioned the state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board to examine his case. Jones now will be eligible for release in December after completing a program designed to help him transition to life outside prison, the board said Thursday.
Jones was eligible for review because of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that forbids imposing the same mandatory lengthy sentences for juvenile killers that are given to adults. The court ruled the practice violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
Legislators responded in 2014, amending Washington’s law to require resentencing for people serving life in prison for crimes committed while juveniles. It also allows offenders who have served at least 20 years to petition the board for review of sentences imposed for crimes they committed while under 18 years of age.
Resentencing has been ordered early next year for Michael Skay, who was 16 when he killed a man near Monroe in 1995. Skay, now 36, has been serving a life sentence for aggravated murder.