Parole hearings start this morning for two Massachusetts men who were sentenced to life in prison as teenagers.
Joseph Donovan, 38 and 37-year-old Frederick Christian will attend their first parole hearings Thursday morning. Both have been been in prison for two decades.
Earlier this year, the state Supreme Judicial Court ruled to allow youths convicted of murder the chance to receive parole from a life sentence in prison.
The ruling was retroactive and affects a number of cases where present-day convicts were juveniles at the time of the murder.
It will most certainly affect sentencing for 14-year-old Philip Chism of Danvers if he is found guilty of murdering teacher Colleen Ritzer, who lived in Andover.
There are currently more than 60 imprisoned on murder charges that stem from when they were juveniles.
Donovan was convicted of first degree murder when he was 17, but didn’t kill anyone when he robbed two MIT students with friends. He admitted to punching the victim while a friend stabbed one, according to NECN. Christian watched his friend gun down two Brockton men when he was also 17.
Whether or not Donovan or Christian are granted parole and how the hearing plays out is a good test of the new ruling.
Gail Garinger, a Massachusetts Child Advocate and former Juvenile Court judge told the Globe the case will be watched very closely to see if they will receive a valid hearing.Both hearings are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday morning.