In a series of decisions, the United States Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to impose certain severe sentences on juvenile offenders. The Court first found the death penalty unconstitutional for juvenile offenders. Then, it found a sentence of life without parole to be unconstitutional for any juvenile offender who did not commit a homicide. The Court later held that mandatory life without parole for juvenile offenders is unconstitutional. Following these decisions, Washington juvenile sentencing laws were revised to eliminate mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders. A new Washington law also required re-sentencing of juvenile offenders who had been sentenced to life without parole: RCW 10.95.030. Washington also enacted RCW 9.94A.730, which allows juvenile offenders to petition for early release after serving 20 years.
An eligible offender sought re-sentencing under RCW 10.95.035. He had been convicted of multiple crimes as a juvenile, including aggravated murder and premeditated murder in 1992. He received a sentence of life without parole for aggravated murder and a consecutive sentence for premeditated murder.
At his re-sentencing hearing, he argued his sentences should run concurrently. The state argued the statute only gave the court the authority to address the sentence of life without parole and that the consecutive sentence was required pursuant to RCW 9.94A.589 because the crimes involve d multiple violent offenses that arose from separate and distinct criminal conduct. The judge agreed with the state and sentenced the defendant to 25 years to life for aggravated murder and left the sentence for the premeditated murder at 280 months to be served consecutively. The defendant appealed and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court. The Washington Supreme Court granted review upon the defendant’s petition.