New hope for those sentenced to life as juveniles in Philadelphia

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New hope for those sentenced to life as juveniles in Philadelphia. Vernon Odom reports during Action News at 4pm on February 26, 2018. (WPVI)

Slowly but surely, inmates sentenced to life without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles are getting a second shot.

It's all because of a Supreme Court ruling that is having a big impact in our area. Two years ago, the court ruled that mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles is unconstitutional.

One of the people impacted by that ruling is Mark Robinson. Now 54 years old, he wound up in prison at age 17 after he and four other teens staged an armed robbery at a store on 12th Street.

Store owner Sook Ja Yu was killed, and even though Robinson was not the gunman, he and a cohort were sentenced to life without parole.

On Monday, Robinson was brought to court for resentencing.

"The law is the law, so any juvenile convicted of murder and sentenced to mandatory life without parole has to be resentenced," said Asst. District Attorney Chesley Lightsey.

Over the years, Philadelphia has sentenced more teenagers to life in prison with no chance of parole than any other jurisdiction in the world.

So far, Philadelphia courts have resentenced nearly 130 juvenile lifers.

Robinson's accomplices in the crime have already been released, including the one who fired the deadly shots.

"He expressed his remorse, and he's doing the best he can to look forward with hope now to the day he's going to be reunited with his family," said attorney Francis Carmen.

The judge resentenced Robinson to 35 years to life. It will be up to the state parole board to decide how much more time he'll have to serve.

"I'm just thankful to God that he gave us one more chance to be a family, to be able to hold my baby boy, to be able to put my arms around him means so much to me today," said his mother, Janie Darrsaw.

Darrsaw expressed her remorse to the victim's family.

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