MASON CITY — A Mason City man convicted of shooting a man to death during a home robbery when he was a juvenile will have a chance at parole.
District Court Judge James Drew signed an order Thursday amending Damion Seats’ sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
Seats’ original sentence was life in prison without the possibility of parole, but that sentence has been ruled unconstitutional for juveniles, Drew wrote in his order.
Seats, now 25, received his sentence after being found guilty by a Cerro Gordo County jury in 2009 of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery. Iowa law required judges to sentence those convicted of Class A felonies to life in prison without parole.
Seats shot Isidoro Erreguin to death at a residence on North Adams Avenue in Mason City in 2008. Seats was 17 at the time.
In 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that requiring life sentences without the possibility of parole for juveniles was cruel and unusual punishment.
After that ruling Gov. Terry Branstad commuted the sentences for Iowans previously sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for crimes committed while they were juveniles — including Seats — to a minimum term of 60 years.
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The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that commutation was unconstitutional, Drew’s order stated.
Both the state and the defense agreed no re-sentencing hearing is necessary and Seats’ sentence must be amended, according to the order.
Seats was to have a re-sentencing hearing on May 31 in Cerro Gordo County District Court but it was postponed.
Part of the reason for the delay was an anticipated Iowa Supreme Court ruling in another case involving a juvenile.
Drew told the Globe Gazette in May that the anticipated decision he was referring to was in the case of Isaiah Sweet, who was 17 when he killed his custodial grandparents at their home in Manchester in 2012 and received a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On May 27 the Iowa Supreme Court made a 4-3 ruling in the Sweet case banning judges from imposing that sentence for juveniles conducted of first-degree murder.
That ruling stated it should be up to parole boards, not judges, if those who committed crimes as juveniles are beyond rehabilitation and should spend the rest of their lives behind bars.