The Arkansas Supreme Court has ordered a resentencing for an inmate who has served nearly 40 years in prison for a crime committed when he was 16 years old.
Billy Ray Smith, who is now 59, challenged the life sentence he received in Pike County for rape. Smith, who represented himself in court filings, argued that a life sentence without parole for a non-homicide offense was illegal for a juvenile, and the state's highest court agreed on Thursday.
The court sent Smith's case back to Pike County Circuit Court with orders that his sentence be modified to 50 years.
Smith, who is being held at the East Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys, has been incarcerated since January 1977.