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Monday, December 13, 2021

Sentenced to 241 Years as a Teen, Bobby Bostic Wins Parole

Posted By on Mon, Dec 13, 2021 at 11:29 AM

Bobby Bostic poses with a certificate from Missouri State University. - PHOTO VIA FREEBOBBYBOSTIC.COM
  • Bobby Bostic poses with a certificate from Missouri State University.

A Missouri man sentenced to 241 years in prison for crimes committed when he was just sixteen will be released next year after a quarter-century behind bars.

The ACLU announced today that 42-year-old Bobby Bostic has been granted parole. He will be released late next year after being provided courses designed to aid him in his re-entry.

On December 12, 1995, Bostic and 18-year-old Donald Hutson were high on PCP when they robbed a group of St. Louisans delivering holiday gifts to a needy family. In the course of the armed robbery, Bostic shot one victim in the side. Hutson shot another individual. Both the gunshot victims survived.

Bostic was charged with 18 felonies. He took his case to trial and in 1997 was found guilty on all counts. His earliest parole date was set for the far-flung year of 2201.

The trial's judge, Evelyn Baker, told Bostic at his sentencing,
"You're gonna die with your choice," and added, "Nobody in this room is going to be alive in the year 2201."

Baker retired in 2008. Two years later, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a ruling in Graham v. Florida that “prohibits the imposition of a life without parole sentence on a juvenile offender who did not commit homicide.”

Bostic's 241-year sentence, however, was not technically a life sentence. In theory, he would have been eligible to be considered for parole at the age of 112.

Bostic appealed unsuccessfully to the Missouri Supreme Court, his lawyers arguing that, according to the Graham v. Florida decision, he should be eligible for parole. In 2018, Bostic's petition to the United States Supreme Court was denied.

In recent years, Judge Baker has come to regret the 241-year sentence she handed down to Bostic, writing in an op-ed published in Riverfront Times last year that, "At the time, I didn’t know, and the criminal justice system didn’t understand how the juvenile brain worked and how long it took to mature."

click to enlarge Retired St. Louis Circuit Judge Evelyn Baker says she made a mistake in treating Bobby Bostic like an adult. - TIM BOMMEL
  • Retired St. Louis Circuit Judge Evelyn Baker says she made a mistake in treating Bobby Bostic like an adult.

In August of this year, the Missouri legislature passed a state statute allowing individuals who are serving "de facto" life sentences for nonhomicide crimes committed as juveniles to receive parole hearings after 15 years of incarceration. The ACLU says that, in addition to Bostic, there are about 100 other individuals in Missouri prisons who meet this criteria.

Bostic had a parole hearing in November that, according to the ACLU, was "one of the first under the new law."

At Bostic's side was the same judge who had sentenced him to nearly a quarter of a millennium in prison. At the parole hearing, Baker advocated for Bostic's release.

“The prejudices that let us believe as a society that teens who commit crimes are beyond redemption are still borne by those who remained imprisoned decades after mistakes that they made as juveniles,” Tony Rothert, ACLU of Missouri’s Director of Integrated Advocacy, said in a press release.

Donald Hutson, Bostic's accomplice in 1995, died in prison in 2018. 

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @RyanWKrull

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