More Than 99 Years In Prison Sentence
In Nelson v. State, the defendant gunned down his former girlfriend and attempted to kill the man she was dating.
this crime sparked considerable outrage in the local community.
After Nelson was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted murder, Superior Court Judge John E. Reese sentenced Nelson to two consecutive 99-year terms -- a total of 198 years' imprisonment.
Nelson appealed his sentence, and this court remanded Nelson's case to Judge Reese, directing him to more fully explain why he believed that Nelson's sentence should exceed 99 years. Here is a portion of what Judge Reese said on remand:
The Court: There's been considerable community response in this case, both in the number of people present here as well as in the numerous letters the court has received.
There are at least 75 letters [in the file], and perhaps quite a few more. ... the primary theme in these letters is anger that we're even having this second sentencing hearing.
But we should have this hearing. ... Without the process of the law, we can't give proper care to our decisions which affect others' lives as profoundly as this one affects Mr. Nelson's life. .
Mr. Nelson inflicted immediate, final resolution of his perceived grievances on X .
That's what these letters are crying out for -- something immediate and final -- and they're angry that there's any return to the issue. But our legal system cannot be swift and final and unthinking without being just like Mr. Nelson.
And we all know how he's been condemned here. It was correct for the court of appeals to require precision in the findings of this court.
It was correct for Mr. Nelson to bring new facts to my attention in this [sentencing] proceeding here today. We are a society of order.
We should be proud of that. We should not be angry that we have these proceedings, and we should not be angry that we take special care even for people who we are condemning. We should be proud that we take the time to do that.