Teenage Arkansas killer resentenced, parole now possible

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – An Arkansas man convicted of capital murder when he was 16-years-old and sentenced to life without parole has been resentenced and is now eligible for parole.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that 55-year-old James Dean Vancleave of Springdale, who has now served nearly 40 years in prison for the crime, was resentenced Wednesday.

It comes after a divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that mandatory life without parole sentences for teenagers is unconstitutional.

Vancleave was convicted in 1978 in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Debra King at a convenience store where she worked.

According to the NWA Democrat-Gazette, Vancleave stabbed King 16 times, “slashed her hand 11 times,” and then attempted to slash her throat with a knife in order to get $30 in her purse.

Prosecutors at the time had sought the death penalty.

Vancleave’s attorney argued Wednesday, his client has been rehabilitated and should be released immediately, but judge Mark Lindsay said it’s the job of the Post-Prison Transfer Board to determine whether he should be paroled.

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