GROVELAND, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- The Supreme Court found that juvenile offenders treated as adults in the eyes of the court are now eligible for parole. The ruling has a Groveland family stunned and they're fighting to honor the memory of a beautiful young girl, Beth Brodie.
The family is shocked and heartbroken over the ruling. They were promised Brodie's killer would be locked up for the rest of his life, but now he could walk free. And they are desperately trying to stop that from happening.
"She was a brilliant beautiful young girl, very smart, she was a varsity cheerleader. She had lots and lots of friends," Brodie's brother Sean Aylward said.
It's been over two decades since 16-year-old Brodie was beaten to death with a baseball bat by 16-year-old Richard Baldwin. He was tried as an adult, convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Now, more than 20 years later, Baldwin may walk free because of the new law passed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
The new law says it's no longer constitutional to sentence juveniles convicted of adult crimes to automatic mandatory life sentences. It points to recent research showing that the brains of teenagers are still developing.
Now, nine teen killers in Massachusetts, including Brodie's killer, will receive immediate parole eligibility for serving at least 15 years of their life sentence.
"We were actually stunned to find out in the fashion we found out, we were not contacted by any officials we found out the same way the general public found out in the newspaper," Aylward said.
Brodie's family will now have to convince the parole board not to let Baldwin back on the streets.
"In order for this to happen they have to bring this up like this and drag our family back through this whole situation 20 odd years later is painful," Aylward said.
They've started a Facebook page "Justice for Beth" as well as a website and petition to keep Baldwin behind bars.
"We have eight other victims out there as well that are going through the same process and we want them to know that we're all going to fight this," Brodie's sister Dawn Santino said.
The family says that they'll fight as long as they have to.
Essex County prosecutors will meet Monday to begin the process of preparing for parole hearings for those nine convicted killers.
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