Ill. high court ruling could mean early release for some inmates - New York News

Families upset ruling could mean early release for victims' killers

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Victims Richard and Nancy Bishop-Langert, sister Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins. Victims Richard and Nancy Bishop-Langert, sister Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins.
David Biro. David Biro.
Addolfo Davis. Addolfo Davis.
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Dozens of inmates serving life without parole in Illinois for murders they committed when they were juveniles were given a chance at freedom Thursday when the state Supreme Court granted them new sentencing hearings.

"A 24-year-old case! We should not have to deal with this man anymore," said Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, the sister of a murder victim.

Bishop-Jenkins is outraged by the Illinois Supreme Court's ruling, which means David Biro, her sister's killer, will get another sentencing hearing. Biro was originally sentenced to three life terms after being convicted of gunning down Richard and Nancy Bishop-Langert in Winnetka in 1990. Bishop-Langert was three months pregnant.

"She's begging for her baby, please don't kill me, please don't kill my baby, and he aims for the baby and fires," said Bishop-Jenkins. "She left us a message in her own blood as she lay dying, she drew a heart and a "U", love you."

However, advocates for inmates impacted by the ruling, including Addolfo Davis, who was convicted of being an accomplice to a different murder committed when he was only 14, hailed the ruling.

"This is the right decision by the Illinois Supreme Court, and it speaks to the power of redemption and it speaks to the possibility of change for young people," said Shoba Mahadev of the Children and Family Justice Center, as well as Northwestern Law School.

The ruling calls for each inmate to get a new hearing, where the judge will be allowed to take into account the offenders' age at the time, role in the crime and rehabilitation in prison. Judges never had discretion before, because the life without parole sentence had been mandatory.

"This is a chance for a chance, that's really what it is, this is not a get out of jail free card," said Mahadev.

However, what it will mean is that the victim's families will have to relive the crime and face their loved ones' killer in court again.

"It means that my 84-year-old mother has no peace…she had put him out of her life and now she says he's back, he's back with a vengeance," added Bishop-Jenkins.

The office of Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said in a statement Thursday that the ruling "brings much needed resolution on this issue." The statement did not address if the office would appeal.

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