A judge has ordered the release of a 59-year-old man convicted of a killing that occurred in Arkansas more than 40 years ago.
The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Dennis Lewis of Wichita, Kansas, was 17 years old when he fatally shot Jared Cobb during a robbery at a Springdale pawn shop in April 1974.
Lewis was convicted of capital murder and assault with the intent to rob in the case, and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Recent state and federal appeals court rulings have said mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles are cruel and unusual punishment and therefore unconstitutional.
Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay signed an order Tuesday that Lewis' sentence be vacated and that he be immediately discharged.
Lewis' attorney L. Gray Dellinger said Lewis' brother is expected to pick him up at the Washington County Detention Center and take him to Kansas to live.
"We're happy, it's been a long journey. I don't know what his future holds," Dellinger said. "I really feel badly for the victim's family and I'm sure Dennis wishes he could undo what he did."
Washington County prosecutor Matt Durrett said these kinds of situations often dredge up past emotions for victims' families.
"They had their appeals and they think I'm never going to have to worry about this guy getting out of prison again and, lo and behold, 40 years later you get a court saying we think the law should be different now. So, they change it and you're left with families having to relive this," Durrett said.
Lewis was one of three men spending life in prison for murders the committed in Washington County as teens.