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High Court Ruling To Change Juvenile Sentencing

Posted at 6:11 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 23:50:06-05

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week could mean a change in sentencing for juvenile offenders sentenced to life in prison with no change of parole.

Jamie Rouse was convicted for a school shooting that killed two people. Yet, a ruling could clear the way for the eventual.

No one thought Rouse would ever get out of prison, and it was still a long shot, but the ruling has reised new questions.

Rouse's crime shocked not just the state, but the country. He went on a violent rampage at Richland High School in Giles County 20 years ago.

"Basically, I just went in and started shooting people," said Rouse in an exclusive interview in 2004. He was 17 years old when he took a semi-automatic rifle into the school.

He killed fellow student, Diane Collins, and a teacher, Carolyn Foster, before he was subdued.

"This decision gives him an opportunity if he chooses to file for post conviction relief," said Herbison.

The high court ruled against automatic life sentences with no chance of parole for teenage killers. The ruling pointed out that juveniles are different than adults and so judge's should consider their youth and immaturity.

Rouse had talked about teenage anxiety. "I was a kid without hope and I thought my life would be better dead," said Rouse.

It was not clear if Rouse will petition the court to challenge his sentencing, but Herbison said the ruling could effect sentences for juveniles across the country convicted of the worst crimes.

"It is significant for juvenile homicide offenders who were tried as adults," said Herbison.

District Attorney Brent Cooper would handle the Rouse case in Giles county if it came to that.

He's said he's still researching the high court's decision. In Tennessee, he told Newschannel 5 he doubted that it will lead to the early release of Rouse or any other juvenile killers.

Even Herbison, Rouse's attorney, conceded that if his client won a legal challenge he still would not be eligible for release until he's 78 years old.