Resentencing set for 2003 Lawrence County murder

Resentencing set for 2003 Lawrence County murder
Source: WAFF
Source: WAFF

(WAFF) - A landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling eliminating mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles centered on a Lawrence County murder case.

Monday, nearly 14 years after the crime, Evan Miller will have a new sentencing hearing.

Miller, who is now 28, was 14 in July of 2003 when he and 16-year-old Colby Smith beat 52-year-old Cole Cannon nearly to death in his mobile home with a baseball bat and their fists.

Then, while the victim was still alive and inside, they set the home on fire.

Smith pleaded guilty to murder and testified against Miller, who a jury convicted of capital murder in 2006.

The judge sentenced Miller to life without parole.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Miller's sentence was unconstitutional. The court mandated that a sentencing option including parole has to be considered for juvenile offenders.

Cannon's family has relived his brutal murder in court several times before. His daughter, Candy Cheathem, said her family is prepared to stand up for justice again for her father.

"He was a person. He had his life cut short. Cut a lot of memories short for me and my family. For grandchildren he never got to meet, who have questions. And they don't understand why someone could kill somebody and have a chance to get out of prison," she said.

"He has a name. It's Cole Cannon. There's been lots of times when there's been court documents, there's been hearings, or there's been reports and his name has not even been mentioned. He was a hard worker. He instilled that in us. He loved God."

Unlike typical sentencing hearing, testimony is expected to last for several days.

Judge Mark Craig will decide Miller's sentence.


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