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154773 - People v Ihab Masalmani

The People of the State of Michigan,

 

Emil Semaan

 

Plaintiff-Appellee,

 

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(Macomb – Druzinski, D.)

 

Ihab Masalmani,

 

Erin Van Campen

 

Defendant-Appellant.

 

Summary

In 2009, the 17-year-old defendant kidnapped a man outside a fast food restaurant, took his car, shot him in the head, and dumped the body in a house that he tried to burn down. Over the next two days, defendant committed a robbery and another carjacking. Initially sentenced to mandatory life without parole for first-degree murder, a result upheld on direct appeal, he was resentenced under MCL 769.25, again to a term of life without parole. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding no abuse of sentencing discretion. The Supreme Court has granted defendant’s application for leave to appeal, limited to whether, in exercising its discretion to impose a sentence of life without parole (LWOP), the trial court properly considered the factors listed in Miller v Alabama, 567 US 460 (2012), as potentially mitigating circumstances. MCL 769.25(6). See People v Skinner, 502 Mich 89 (2018). In particular, the Court will address: (1) which party, if any, bears the burden of proof of showing that a Miller factor does or does not suggest a LWOP sentence; (2) whether the sentencing court gave proper consideration to the defendant’s “chronological age and its hallmark features,” Miller, 567 US at 477-478, by focusing on his proximity to the bright line age of 18 rather than his individual characteristics; and (3) whether the court properly considered the defendant’s family and home environment, which the court characterized as “terrible,” and the lack of available treatment programs in the Department of Corrections as weighing against his potential for rehabilitation.